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March 23, 2017 11:18

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07:00 16 March 2017

Japan-EU motion to seek action on N. Korea rights abuses

GENEVA, March 15, Kyodo

Japan and the European Union are poised to call for concrete measures to hold those responsible for human rights abuses in North Korea accountable, a draft of their resolution to be submitted to a U.N. human rights panel showed Wednesday.

The two parties plan to jointly submit the resolution, the 10th of its kind, on Thursday with the aim of winning approval from the U.N. Human Rights Council next week. China and Russia have signaled their opposition, saying they cannot support any attempt to address rights issues for political purposes.

According to the draft, a copy of which was obtained by Kyodo News, the resolution is expected to welcome a recent report by U.N. Special Rapporteur on North Korea Tomas Ojea Quintana that calls on the international community to refer the issue of Pyongyang's rights abuses to the International Criminal Court.

It then recommends "having experts in legal accountability assess all information and testimonies with a view to developing possible strategies to be used in any future accountability process."

The draft also proposes strengthening "the capacity of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, including its field-based structure in Seoul" aimed at gathering information, including evidence of Pyongyang's rights abuses.

Furthermore, it expresses "grave concern" at the lack of positive action by North Korea on the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s and calls for settling the matter "at the earliest possible date."

There has been no substantial progress in bilateral talks on the issue, although North Korea agreed with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government in 2014 to reinvestigate the abductions of Japanese nationals.

Pyongyang said in February last year it was suspending the probe in response to tougher sanctions imposed by Japan over North Korean nuclear and missile tests.

The draft resolution makes no mention of the recent assassination in Malaysia of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Malaysian authorities suspect North Korea orchestrated the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, who is known to have criticized the country's hereditary succession, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb. 13, using the highly toxic nerve agent VX. North Korea claims the man died from a heart attack.

The resolution adopted last year called for setting up an experts' group within the Human Rights Council to hold individuals in the North Korean regime responsible for rights abuses. The group worked closely with Quintana to compile the report recently submitted to the council.

==Kyodo

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