UN Commission dismisses claims that North Korea Report was inaccurate
Seoul, Jan 21: UN commission that produced a damning report on North Korean rights abuses has dismissed North Korea’s claim about the credibility of a prominent witness made the panel’s findings “invalid.”
According to a retired Australian judge Michael Kirby a partial retraction of Shin Dong-hyuk and the testimony he gave to the Commission of Inquiry on North Korea is not significant for the report, conclusions or recommendations of the commission.
This comes after Shin, a well-known defector and Pyongyang critic, admitted this week that elements of his best-selling gulag survivor book “Escape from Camp 14” were inaccurate, although he stressed that the crucial details of his suffering and torture still stood.
For his part, Kirby noted that Shin was only one of 300 witnesses interviewed by his commission, whose overall findings were based on a mass of “overwhelming” corroborative evidence.
“The dispute over Mr Shin’s evidence appears to relate to the exact detention camp from which he escaped,” Kirby said in a statement.
“In the big picture of gross abuses of human rights of the entire population of North Korea over more than 65 years, his experience — although very important to him and his family — is not critical to the inquiry,” he added.
But a spokesman for North Korea’s Association for Human Rights Studies said Wednesday that Shin’s admissions “self-exposed” the flimsy foundations of efforts to censure Pyongyang for its rights record.
In a statement carried by the North’s official KCNA news agency, the spokesman noted that Shin was one of the best-known defectors who testified to Kirby’s panel.
The commission’s conclusion that North Korea was committing human rights violations “without parallel in the contemporary World” was the basis of a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly last month. It urged the Security Council to consider referring Pyongyang to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The North Korean spokesman said Shin’s recent retractions proved that the commission’s report was “a false document cooked up on the basis of false testimonies made by human scum”.
The North has repeatedly sought to discredit Shin as a fabulist and criminal, and last October aired a TV interview with his father who called Shin a “liar” and denied the family was even in a labour camp.