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White House: N.K. human rights situation 'deeply, deeply troubling'

All Headlines 06:15 October 13, 2016

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's human rights situation is "deeply, deeply troubling," the White House said Wednesday, as fresh efforts are under way to adopt a U.N. General Assembly resolution calling for referring the issue to the International Criminal Court for the third consecutive year.

"The humanitarian situation in North Korea is deeply, deeply troubling. You've got a government in North Korea that seeks to enrich itself even in the face of some of the toughest sanctions regimes in the world, at the expense of the civilian population," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said at a regular briefing.

"You've got millions of people in North Korea who face daily austere poverty, all while the government officials continue to enjoy the luxury of a wealthy lifestyle," he said.

Earnest declined comment on efforts to adopt a new U.N. resolution, but added, "But obviously, the flagrant violation of human rights inside of North Korea is something that is of deep concern not just to the United States, but to any other country and any other person around the world that prioritizes the protection of universal human rights."

White House: N.K. human rights situation 'deeply, deeply troubling' - 1

U.N. sources have said that Japan and the European Union have drafted a new U.N. General Assembly resolution on the North's human rights situation and circulated it among other countries set to co-sponsor the resolution.

The draft resolution, which calls for the U.N. Security Council to refer the problem to the ICC, is expected to be presented before the Third Committee around next month, according to the sources.

It would mark the third consecutive year for the General Assembly to call for the North's referral to the ICC.

The 2014 General Assembly resolution is considered a watershed moment in international efforts to improve the North's human rights situation as it marked the first time for the Assembly to call for the North's referral to the ICC.

That resolution led to the U.N. Security Council holding consultations on the issue for the first time later that year. In addition, a similar resolution was adopted last year and the Security Council also held discussions on the North's human rights situation for the second time.

The consecutive adoption of such resolutions underscored the seriousness the international community attaches to the problem and is expected to increase pressure on Pyongyang.

jschang@yna.co.kr
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