N.K. attaches importance to int’l cooperation in human rights

SEOUL-- North Korea said Wednesday that the country viewed international cooperation in human rights issues as important, as a U.N. investigator on the rights of those with disabilities wrapped up a rare visit to the North.

Catalina Devandas Aguilar, the U.N. special rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, visited North Korea from last Wednesday to Monday. Her visit marked the first-ever visit to the North by an independent U.N. expert named by the U.N. Human Rights Council.

North Korea's state media said that the country valued cooperation in human rights at the global level though it does not recognize a U.N. rapporteur on North Korea's human rights situation.

"We have a consistent stance that we never recognize a U.N. investigator on the North's human rights as we reject rights resolutions against North Korea written based on false testimony of North Korean defectors and fabricated information," said the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). "(But) we see sincere dialogue and cooperation in international human rights important."

North Korea's invitation of the U.N. expert is seen as a move to mitigate international criticism against the North's human rights abuse as it appears to give the impression that the country cares for the human rights of the vulnerable.

North Korea has not permitted current and former U.N. investigators on North Korea's human rights record to conduct on-site probes into the situation inside the country.

Devandas Aguilar was designated the first special rapporteur on the rights of people with disabilities in June 2014 by the U.N. Human Rights Council.

In November 2016, North Korea's rubber-stamp parliament ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It said that the country will further promote the rights and conveniences of those with disabilities and strengthen international cooperation.

The KCNA said that Devandas Aguilar met with key North Korean officials including health minister Kang Ha-guk and Ri Hung-sik, a roving ambassador.

The rapporteur's findings are expected to be reflected in her report to be submitted to a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council in March 2018.

At a press conference held in Pyongyang on Monday, she called for more attention to people with disabilities in North Korea, Associated Press reported.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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