Statement by Michelle Bachelet
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Pursuant to resolutions 34/24 and 40/20, I am honoured to update the Council regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
In line with resolutions 34/24 and 40/20, we have strengthened monitoring and documentation; continued to develop an information and evidence repository; and are currently exploring strategies for future accountability.
Our monitoring indicates apparently systematic human rights violations in detention centres in the DPRK, including sexual violence against women and girls. These violations appear to be taking place under the direct authority of two Ministries, with likely involvement of higher authorities. They may amount to crimes against humanity, which could engage the individual criminal responsibility of DPRK officials.
We are seeking to identify those most responsible for such crimes. We are also looking into the abduction of foreign nationals, including people from Japan and the Republic of Korea And we are working with States, civil society and other partners to identify and promote a number of avenues for accountability — including those that might be pursued by victims and their representatives around the world, based on the principle of universal jurisdiction.
Our Accountability Project for the DPRK presents a historic, but challenging opportunity to advance accountability. The difficulty in gaining information from the DPRK, the scale of the alleged international crimes, and the timescale over which they have occurred, add to the complexity of this work. The cornerstone of the project – the information and evidence repository – is an enormous undertaking, with considerable financial implications due to the need for sophisticated software to manage and analyse information for criminal justice purposes.
The Office is carrying out this mandate with a skeleton team and a limited budget. I call on this Council and Member States to engage with the Office in supporting possible strategies for accountability, and to provide the necessary support so that the Office can continue this work.
I also ask the DPRK and other relevant States to facilitate the investigation of allegations; to put an end to violations where they are taking place; and to support and protect victims.