North Korea submitted a report to the UN, ahead of its scheduled review, which whitewashes the widespread and systematic human rights violations committed by the regime’s leadership. Through its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) is set to review North Korea’s record on May 1.

At the 25th HRC session that concluded last week, the Commission of Inquiry on North Korea presented a damning 400-page report, which details “violations of the freedoms of thought, expression and religion, discrimination, violations of the freedom of movement and residence, violations of the right to food and related aspects of the right to life, arbitrary detention, torture, executions and prison camps, abductions and enforced disappearances from other countries as well as crimes against humanity.” A strong resolution which asks the Security Council to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court for possible prosecution of its leaders was also adopted.

North Korea denied the detailed report as biased, called the witnesses “criminals” and rejected the report as an “anti-DPRK conspiracy on the part of the United States and its followers” and as a means for Western countries to intervene its internal affairs as well as its sovereignty. During the adoption of the resolution, the North Korean Ambassador told the UN member States “to mind your own business, which means that one needs to see his or her face in the mirror to check how nasty it is before talking about others.”

North Korea submitted its National Report for the UPR which claims that it has cooperated with UN mechanisms (when in fact it consistently blocks access to UN investigators) and that the human rights situation in the country has improved. Below are 10 excerpts from the National Report, which give a false image of “happiness” in the country, when the numerous testimonies of victims tell us otherwise.

  1. “Holding the respected Marshal Kim Jong Un in high esteem as the supreme leader of the DPRK and under his seasoned leadership, they have opened up a new era of history in their efforts to build a socialist thriving nation that effectively ensures people’s happy well-being and genuine human rights.”
  2. “The DPRK, while providing human rights education at formal educational institutions and judicial officers’ training centers, directed special attention to raising general public awareness of human rights, conducting education in various forms and manner appropriate to the level of different targets.”
  3. “Talks of renowned human rights scholars were broadcasted by television and Understanding of International Human Rights Law and other books on human rights were published and distributed to help citizens have a broad range of knowledge about the nature of human rights, key international human rights instruments and mechanisms.”
  4. “Citizens expressed their views on various social and political issues through mass media and forums, and participate in annually-held national or regional exhibition of scientific and technical achievements, software contests, prize contests of literature and art works and audio-visual performances to present their creative works and have them protected.”
  5. “It is the goal of the Government of the DPRK to turn the country in the near future into a knowledge-based economic power by dint of advanced science and technology and the devoted efforts of the people to make it a reality brought about remarkable achievements in the protection and promotion of economic, social and cultural rights.”
  6. “The Government continued to implement the policy of building dwelling houses at the State expense and providing them to people free of charge. Thousands of housing units were newly built or renovated in provinces,  municipalities and counties, thus providing conditions for people to enjoy a more civilized and happy life.”
  7. “Places of recreation and relaxation and centers for cultural and leisure activities were set up in different parts of the country, creating conditions for people to relax and enjoy in a more diverse way. Considerable increase of people’s interest in physical culture and sports and a significant improvement in sports technique of the country were noticeable with the appearance of peculiar-style community sports parks, indoor stadiums and roller skating grounds in different parts of the country.”
  8. “Production capacity of foodstuff industry increased threefold as a result of overall technical renovation”
  9. “The Government, putting forward children as future masters of the country, regards it an important part of its work to create all conditions for them to grow up and live healthily under clean and culturally developed environment.”
  10. “The DPRK will hold fast to people-centred, socialist policy on protection and promotion of human rights and further perfect the legal and institutional framework for the people to fully enjoy their rights to political freedoms and rights, work and subsistence, education and health care and other rights that social beings are entitled to, thereby ensuring within the maximum extent possible their legitimate rights and interests.”

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