A North Korean human rights body has rejected the latest report by the United Nations human rights investigator, calling it a ‘malicious slander’.
The Korea Association for Human Rights Studies, in a statement carried by the Korean state media on Tuesday, strongly denounced the UN human rights watchdog’s scathing report.
“Our state takes full responsibility for the life security and livelihood of our people, and we have never asked anyone to worry about the living conditions of our people,” it said.
In this month’s report, Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, said the worsening humanitarian situation in North Korea could lead to a crisis very soon.
Many Koreans, he noted, are on the verge of starvation due to the country’s isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic and sanctions imposed on it for its nuclear and missile program.
“Sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council should be reviewed and eased when necessary to both facilitate humanitarian and lifesaving assistance and to enable the promotion of the right to an adequate standard of living of ordinary citizens,” he said in the report submitted to the UN General Assembly.
Ojea Quintana also criticized “political prison camps” and said self-imposed border lock downs due to the COVID-19 pandemic are worsening the humanitarian situation in the country.
The Korean human rights body said the country does not recognize Ojea Quintana’s mission and accused him of interfering with the internal affairs of other countries in a “US backed scheme.”
“The ‘special rapporteur’, not being content with distorting our reality, has pointed a finger at our ‘people’s livelihood’ and viciously picked on the most realistic and appropriate anti-epidemic measures taken by our state for our own specific need in order to cope with the global epidemic,” the statement said.
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un in June acknowledged the food situations was “tense” due to storms and floods last year and affirmed that his citizens had made great sacrifice during the pandemic.
However, he called for steps to minimize the pressure on his people and ensured good harvest for the coming year.
North Korea has imposed strict anti-virus measures by closing all its borders and controlling domestic travel, adding to the shortages once compensated by import from China.
The country, reeling under harsh United Nations and US sanctions for its missile and nuclear activities, has long struggled to feed itself, suffering chronic food shortages.