A special UN commission on North Korean human rights has urged the international community's efforts to improve rights conditions in the reclusive state.
Reporting to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday, the panel of inquiry said systematic and widespread crimes of humanity committed by the leadership in Pyongyang must no longer be neglected.
"Allow humanitarian assistance in accordance with humanitarian and human rights principles. Allow separated families to communicate with each other through mail and telephone and to permanently reunite."
Comparing the North Korean situation to Nazi Germany, the Khmer Rouge's reign of terror in Cambodia and apartheid South Africa, commission chair Michael Kirby talked about taking the case to the International Criminal Court.
Dismissing the panel report, the North Korean ambassador So Se-pyong accused the U.S. and its allies of hostile intentions behind the findings.
China, the North's biggest ally, also questioned the credibility of the report, which is based on testimonies outside the regime.
Pyongyang did not cooperate with the probe.
Responding to Kirby's calls to stop repatriating North Korean escapees, Beijing referred to them as "illegal migrants."
China's objection casts doubt over any future UN actions on the issue, since it is a veto-wielding permanent Security Council member.
Also during Monday's session, a member of the Japanese delegation whose daughter is presumed to have been abducted to North Korea in 1978 got a chance to speak, prompting the North Korean ambassador to walk out in protest.
Choi You-sun, Arirang News.