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(LEAD) N. Korea to boycott U.N. human rights forum

All Headlines 11:37 March 02, 2016

(ATTN: REWRITES dateline, first 2 paras; ADDS Seoul's reaction from para 10)

GENEVA/SEOUL, March 2 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has said it will boycott the U.N. Human Rights Council session and will not be bound by any resolutions that single out the country for censure.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong on Tuesday claimed the council meeting has been politically contaminated and members are applying double standards.

He said in a speech in Geneva that because Pyongyang possesses a powerful nuclear and military deterrent, the United States and others had no other choice but to make an issue out of the country's human rights record.

Ri said the DPRK will respond resolutely to any person or country that uses human rights as a political tool.

The DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.

The official then pointed out that on average 13,000 people die each year in the United States because of that country's lax gun control rules, while a countless number of refugees drowned or suffocated while trying to enter Europe. He added that Japan murdered millions during World War II.

He said that evidence against the DPRK's human rights abuses came from some defectors and argued these people were either bought with money or kidnapped.

The minister said that money used to purchase these people came from the United States, Japan and South Korea.

The official, meanwhile, did not mention ongoing efforts by the United Nations Security Council to pass a new resolution condemning its fourth nuclear weapons test and the launching of a long-range rocket.

North Korea has long been labeled one of the worst human rights violators in the world. The communist regime does not tolerate dissent, holds hundreds of thousands of people in political prison camps and keeps tight control over outside information.

In December, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution for the second consecutive year that calls for referring the North to the International Criminal Court for human rights violations.

Seoul's unification ministry called for North Korea to pump up efforts to improve its human rights records.

"Now is time for North Korea to look back upon its dismal human rights situation and make efforts to substantially improve it," Jeong Joon-hee, a ministry spokesman, told a regular press briefing Wednesday.

He stressed that protection of human rights is a universal value of mankind, expressing concerns about the North's severe human rights violation.
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