09:38 GMT21 January 2021
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    Member states of the United Nations Security Council including Germany, Britain, France, Belgium, Estonia, the United States and the Dominican Republic brought up the issue of human rights abuses in North Korea in a closed-door virtual meeting on Friday.

    Seven countries of the United Nations Security Council accused the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) of using the COVID-19 pandemic “to crack down further on the human rights of its own people” and diverting resources away from North Korean citizens to its illicit ballistic missile and nuclear programmes.

    “The DPRK’s human rights violations pose an imminent threat to international peace and security. The DPRK government diverts resources away from its people to its illicit ballistic missile and nuclear programs,” the seven countries said, according to the statement.

    “The government’s decision to prioritize its weapons programs over the needs of its people and their isolation from the international community, is inevitably worsening the impacts of the pandemic on the North Korean population,” the UN statement said.

    Although North Korea has not officially registered any infections, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported last week that the country had implemented “top-class emergency measures”, while Pyongyang has been placed on the highest level of alert against the COVID-19 virus, according to reports. The operations of public venues, including restaurants and public bathhouses, have been suspended and the movement of people in the capital has been banned.

    North Korea has been under UN sanctions since 2006 over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs, while repeatedly rejecting accusations of human rights abuses and blaming the UN sanctions for the dire humanitarian situation in the country.

    “The government’s decision to prioritize its weapons programs over the needs of its people and their isolation from the international community, is inevitably worsening the impacts of the pandemic on the North Korean population,” German UN Ambassador Christoph Heusgen said.

    The UN sanctions were implemented to contribute to the complete and verifiable denuclearization of North Korea, However, while the Security Council has steadily strengthened its sanctions, UN monitors reported this year that North Korea has continued to develop its programs.

    Tags:
    United Nations Security Council, UN Security Council, human rights, coronavirus, COVID-19, North Korea
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