UN panel to begin collecting accounts of N. Korean human rights abuses
A three-member UN panel will begin collecting testimonies on North Korea's widespread violation of human rights on Tuesday.
The United Nations' Commission of Inquiry, headed by Michael Kirby, will hold hearings for five days at Seoul's Yonsei University, where some 30 witnesses are expected to testify about the ongoing human rights abuses in the communist state, like torture and arbitrary detention.
Around 200-thousand people are believed to be imprisoned in North Korea's labor camps, where they are malnourished or even worked to death.
This is the first time that an expert panel is examining the North's human rights abuses, although Pyongyang has denied the accusations.
North Korea has said it will not allow the UN inspectors on North Korean soil.
While experts don't expect the investigation to have an immediate impact on improving the human rights conditions in the North, many say it will help publicize the issue globally and perhaps add pressure to the isolated nation.
There are hopes that the current inspection will lead to the trial of North Korean leaders at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, although the commission says this is not an option for now.
After gathering evidence in Seoul this week, the panel will move to Tokyo to tackle the issue of abductions of Japanese citizens.
Hwang Sung-hee, Arirang News.
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