North Korea asks UN to 'urgently' investigates CIA torture claims

Request comes as UN meets to discuss charges of human rights abuses in the Asian country - claims North Korean officials have labelled 'fabricated'

North Korea has asked the United Nation Security Council to "urgently" investigate the CIA torture claims - as the council prepares to meet on alleged human rights abuses by the Southeast Asian state.

The council is due to meet on 22 December or 23 December on human rights in North Korea after two-thirds of the 15-members pushed for the issue to be added to the body's agenda. A UN report in February detailed abuses in North Korea that it said were comparable to Nazi-era atrocities.

Once an issue is on the Security Council agenda, it can be discussed at any time. Majority support is needed to add an item to the agenda and cannot be blocked by the five veto-wielding powers - China, Russia, the United States, France and Britain.

Diplomats said it was not likely that enough countries would support a council meeting on torture by the CIA.

"The so-called 'human rights issue' in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) is politically fabricated and, therefore, it is not at all relevant to the regional or international peace and security," North Korean UN Ambassador Ja Song Nam wrote in a letter to the council.

"The issue of CIA torture crimes committed by the United States needs to be urgently addressed in the Security Council since it threatens to have an imminent and destabilizing impact on the maintenance of international peace and security," he added.

A US Senate report released last week found that the CIA misled the White House and public about its torture of detainees after the 11 September attacks and acted more brutally and pervasively than it had acknowledged.

North Korea called for the Security Council to establish "an ad-hoc investigation commission mandated to make a thorough probe into the CIA torture crimes and hold those responsible to account for their most serious human rights violations."

 

A UN committee last month urged the council to consider referring North Korea to the International Criminal Court, alleging crimes against humanity. China, likely supported by Russia, would probably veto any referral to the international court based in The Hague, diplomats say.

China's UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi said he opposed adding human rights in North Korea to the Security Council agenda.

"The situation on the Korean peninsula is so complex and so precarious (that) what the council should do is work towards maintaining peace and stability on Korean peninsula and not to do something on the contrary," he told reporters on Monday.

Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the issue should be dealt with by the U.N. Human Rights Council.

"If they have the meeting, I won't be heartbroken over it, but I think it's improper to do it at the Security Council," Churkin said on Monday.

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