Crying foul: Human rights activists stage a rally outside the Laotian Embassy in Seoul on Friday to demand that the government of the Southeast Asian nation guarantee the safety of nine North Korean citizens who reportedly fled there (Photo: AP)
North Korea on Tuesday rejected the findings of a UN human rights inquiry as part of a political plot "fabricated and invented by forces hostile" to Pyongyang.
North Korean ambassador So Se Pyong, addressing the UN Human Rights Council, said: "Such a mechanism is only a product of politicisation of human rights on the part of the EU and Japan in alliance with the US hostile policy against the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea)."
UN human rights investigators had said on Tuesday that North Korean camp survivors suffered "starvation and unspeakable atrocities", evidence of widespread and systematic violations by the state.
Michael Kirby, head of the independent inquiry, said testimony from North Korean exiles, including former political prison camps inmates, given at public hearings in Seoul and Tokyo last month, suggested a pattern of behaviour by the state.
“They are representative of large-scale patterns that may constitute systematic and gross human rights violations," Kirby told the UN Human Rights Council of the team's first report.
He said the independent inquiry would seek to determine which North Korean institutions and officials were responsible.
The commission of inquiry was launched by the Geneva forum in March to investigate violations in the secretive impoverished state, including possible crimes against humanity.
Shin Dong-hyuk, North Korea's best-known defector who escaped a political prison camp where he was born, was among those who testified in South Korea.
Kirby, referring to Shin, said: "We think of the testimony of a young man, imprisoned from birth and living on rodents, lizards and grass to survive and witnessing the public execution of his mother and his brother."
The investigators, who have not had access to the country despite repeated requests, said the testimony by defectors and other witnesses and "extensive evidence" stood unanswered. Kirby challenged Pyongyang to produce "an ounce of evidence" in its defence.
North Korean Ambassador So Se Pyong said the inquiry was a fake and defamatory plot to force regime change in North Korea. It had been politicised by the European Union and Japan, "in alliance with the US hostile policy", he said.