UN chief 'deeply disturbed' by rights violations in N.Korea

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UN chief Ban Ki-moon has said he was "deeply disturbed" by findings of "grave" human rights violations in North Korea from a UN-mandated inquiry, saying he hoped the report would raise international awareness.

The detailed and wide-ranging report, compiled by the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on North Korea, offers a searing indictment of Pyongyang's rights record, detailing murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence.

Ban "remains seriously concerned about human rights and the humanitarian situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)," a statement said, using the country's formal name.

"As such, he is deeply disturbed by the findings of the commission of inquiry on human rights in the DPRK."

Ban noted that the inquiry commission, "established by the Human Rights Council" was independent of the United Nations, and he said he "hopes the report will contribute to raising international awareness about grave violations of those values in the DPRK.

He also urged North Korean authorities "to engage with the international community to improve human rights and the living conditions of its people."

North Korea refused to cooperate with the commission, claiming its evidence was "fabricated" by "hostile" forces.

The COI panel said its leaders should be brought before an international court for a litany of crimes against humanity -- a recommendation that many observers suggested was wishful thinking.

Any substantive action on the part of the world community would require the participation of the North's key ally China, which has made clear it opposes any move to refer the Pyongyang leadership to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

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