Geneva: A UN human rights investigator accused North Korean authorities of committing widespread torture in prisons that he called “death traps.”
Life in the reclusive communist-ruled country is “dire and desperate,” said Vitit Muntarbhorn, adding that people are denied enough food to survive.
Muntarbhorn told the 47-nation Human Rights Council that whole families are routinely sent away for the crimes of one member. Once imprisoned, they suffer greatly.
“Many prisons are a death trap for the inmates,” he said.
Sang Il Hun of North Korea’s UN mission told the council that the report was untrue.
He said Muntarbhorn’s report was the result of the “hostile policy” of the United States toward his country and the politicization of human rights by the European Union.
Muntarbhorn, who has investigated North Korea for five years but never gained entry, consulted with UN agencies working in North Korea and human rights groups outside. He said the government was also torturing people outside official prisons in interrogations or other places of detention.
Muntarbhorn also spoke with North Korean refugees in South Korea, Japan and Mongolia in preparing his report.
“The abhorrent prison conditions, including lack of food, poor hygiene, freezing conditions in winter time, forced labor and corporal punishment, result in a myriad of abuses and deprivations,” Muntarbhorn said.