Wednesday, April 16, 2003; 10:33 AM
GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations top human rights body issued its first ever condemnation of North Korea on Wednesday, expressing "deep concern" at "systematic" rights abuses in the reclusive Communist state.
The 53-state U.N. Commission on Human Rights voted by 28 to 10, with 14 abstentions, in favor of a resolution brought by the European Union and the United States that accused Pyongyang of "widespread and grave violations."
These included "torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (and) public executions" as well as "all-pervasive and severe restrictions on the freedoms of thought, conscience, religion, opinion and expression."
North Korea, which was publicly backed on the commission by China and Syria, dismissed the charges as "fabrications" and accused the European Union, the prime mover in the motion, of being politically motivated.
"The draft is full of fabrications. The EU is always acting arrogantly," North Korean ambassador Ri Tcheul told the commission.