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UN council to meet Thursday on North Korea rights violations

AFP , Saturday 5 Dec 2015

The UN Security Council will hold a meeting on December 10 to discuss human rights violations in North Korea, only the second time that such a session will been held, US diplomats said.

The meeting was scheduled after nine council members including Britain and France called for the talks on Pyongyang's dismal rights record.

"We intend to convene the Security Council meeting on the situation in the DPRK on Thursday, December 10," said Hagar Chemali, spokesperson for the US mission to the United Nations.

Last year, the council held the first-ever meeting on North Korea's rights violations despite opposition from China, Pyongyang's ally.

China called a procedural vote to block the meeting, but the majority of council members supported the move and the meeting went ahead.

"We believe it is critical for the council to continue to shine a light on the abuses in North Korea and speak regularly about the DPRK's human rights situation -- and what we can do to change it -- for as long as the crimes committed there persist," US Ambassador Samantha Power said this week.

This year's request for a meeting was made by Britain, Chile, France, Jordan, Lithuania, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain and the United States, which holds the council presidency this month.

It remained unclear whether China would seek again to hold a vote to register its disagreement with the decision to discuss Pyongyang's rights record.

A UN General Assembly committee in recent weeks voted by a record majority to condemn gross widespread human rights violations in North Korea.

The resolution, which goes to the full assembly for a vote later this month, encourages the Security Council to consider referring Pyongyang to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

Such a move however would likely be blocked by China, which has veto power in the council.

International alarm has grown since the release last year of a UN commission of inquiry report which concluded that North Korea was committing rights violations "without parallel in the contemporary world."

In his latest report, UN special rapporteur Marzuki Darusman said there had been no improvement in the dire human rights situation over the past year.

Pyongyang continues to operate prison camps on a large scale and resorts to widespread use of summary executions, torture and arbitrary detentions to impose a "near-total denial of human rights," he said.

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