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U.N. presses N. Korea to reform human rights condition

All Headlines 10:41 December 20, 2009

NEW YORK, Dec. 19 (Yonhap) -- The United Nations General Assembly has approved a resolution on North Korean human rights for the fifth straight year, calling on the communist North to improve its dire human rights conditions.

The non-binding resolution, co-sponsored by 53 nations, was supported Friday by 99 of 192 U.N. member countries, including the United States, Japan, Germany and South Korea. Twenty countries, including China and Malaysia, voted against the resolution, while 63 countries abstained from voting.

The bill was first adopted by a special committee of the U.N. General Assembly on Nov. 19.

The U.N. has issued a similar resolution condemning the communist nation's human rights record every year since 2005.

The U.N. and many global human rights agencies argue on the basis of defectors' testimony and other evidence that "systemic, widespread, and grave violations" are prevalent in North Korea.

The bill expressed concern over persisting torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments, including the inhumane condition of detention facilities and public executions in North Korea, and urged its government to "respect fully all human rights and fundamental freedom."

South Korea, under the conservative Lee Myung-bak administration, co-sponsored the resolution for the first time last year, ending Seoul's long-held practice of abstaining from a series of votes on North Korea's human rights condition in an apparent attempt to avoid antagonizing Pyongyang.

odissy@yna.co.kr
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