North Korea denounces UN human rights expert as US ‘puppet’
- Elizabeth Salmon, the new UN expert on human rights in North Korea, is on her first official visit to South Korea
- North Korea’s Foreign Ministry criticised Salmon and the ‘human rights’ racket of the US and other hostile forces
North Korea called the UN’s top expert on the country’s human rights “a puppet” of the United States, warning on Friday that it won’t tolerate an American-led plot to use the rights issue to overthrow its political system.
North Korea is extremely sensitive to any outside criticism of its rights record, viewing it as an attempt to slander and rattle its authoritarian rule of its 26 million people, most of whom have little access to foreign news.
Its latest reaction comes as Elizabeth Salmon, the UN special rapporteur on the North’s human rights, is making her first visit to South Korea this week to meet officials, activists and North Korean defectors since her appointment last month.
In her inaugural statement, Salmon said North Koreans face “new and more serious hardships” because of severe pandemic-related curbs that added to decades-long abuses, which she said must not be neglected.
She said she was convinced that international solidarity should be more decisively mobilised to protect human rights in North Korea.
On Friday, an unidentified spokesperson at the North’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement slamming the UN rapporteur without mentioning her name directly.
The statement accused Salmon of displaying “ignorance and biased vision”. It criticised her for making “unpardonable reckless remarks encroaching upon our inviolable system and sovereign rights” during her visit to South Korea.
The statement also accused Washington of being behind Salmon, saying: “We know well that the US deeply stretches out its tentacles on (her) back”.
“The ‘human rights’ racket of the US and other hostile forces has nothing to do with the guarantee of true human rights and is nothing but the most politicised hostile means for tarnishing the dignified image of (North Korea),” the statement said.
“(North Korea) will never pardon the US and its vassal forces’ ‘human rights’ racket … which is aimed at overthrowing its social system.”
The North’s ministry repeated an earlier position that it will never recognise or deal with any UN special rapporteur on its human rights. Salmon’s predecessors were denied access to North Korea, which observers say has challenged outside attempts to find more independent and credible information on rights abuses.
In a new report circulated Thursday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that North Korea has increased the repression of the rights and freedoms of its people and the UN Security Council should consider referring it to the International Criminal Court for possible crimes against humanity.
North Korea remains under multiple rounds of UN sanctions over its nuclear and missile programmes.
Additional reporting by Reuters