State Dept. zeroes in on N. Korea abuse report

The State Department on Monday said it welcomed a United Nations report that “provides compelling evidence of widespread, systematic, and grave human rights violations” by the North Korean government.

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The Council Commission of Inquiry (COI) report “reflects the international community’s consensus view that the human rights situation in the D.P.R.K. [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] is among the world’s worst,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement.

“We urge the D.P.R.K. to take concrete steps – as recommended by the COI – to improve the human rights situation for the North Korean people,” she added.

“The COI’s investigation … clearly and unequivocally documents the brutal reality of the D.P.R.K.’s human rights abuses,” Harf said. “We continue to work actively with our partners and with international organizations to raise awareness of and address the deplorable human rights conditions in the D.P.R.K.”

The United States, European Union and South Korea co-sponsored a resolution at the U.N. Human rights council that stabled the COI last March. Harf said officials will be discussing the report’s recommendations with partners “who share our deep concern about the human rights situation in North Korea.”

Secretary of State John Kerry kicked off his visit to Asia last week with a sharp warning to North Korea.

“Let me be clear; the United States will not accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state,” Kerry said at a press conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se. “We will not accept talks for the sake of talks, and the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] must show that it will live up to its commitments.”

Kerry also dismissed requests to postpone military drills with South Korea later this month, despite Pyongyang's threats to cancel the planned reunification of families on both sides of the demarcation line.