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China rejects U.N. accusation of aiding N. Korean rights abuse

All Headlines 17:24 February 18, 2014

BEIJING, Feb. 18 (Yonhap) -- China strongly criticized Tuesday a high-profile U.N. report on human rights situations in North Korea that said Beijing may be "aiding crimes against humanity" by repatriating North Korean defectors to their homeland against their will.

"We totally cannot accept this accusation," China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters, a day after U.N. investigators condemned North Korea for widespread human rights abuses under the leadership of Kim Jong-un.

China, the North's key ally, has considered tens of thousands of North Koreans hiding in the border areas as illegal migrants, not asylum-seekers, and routinely sends them back to North Korea, where they face harsh penalties, even death.

Hua repeated China's stance on North Korean defectors, saying Beijing views them as "illegal border-crossers," not "defectors," therefore not subject to protection.

Hua also said China would block any attempt to refer the case to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Wrapping up a year-long investigation, the three-member U.N. Commission of Inquiry released the results of their investigation into North Korea's human rights situation in Geneva on Monday, concluding that the North's regime has committed crimes against humanity.

It marked the clearest indictment against North Korea's ruling dynasty, and the U.N. panel recommended the case to be submitted to the ICC that would set the stage for North Korean leader Kim to be charged with crimes against humanity.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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