Anchor: A United Nations committee approved a resolution Tuesday condemning North Korea for its human rights abuses. The resolution, sponsored by the European Union and Japan, was adopted without a vote by the General Assembly's human rights committee.
Alannah Hill has the details.
Report: A UN panel has passed a resolution condemning North Korea's human rights abuses and calling on the regime to immediately stop the violations and improve its human rights conditions.
The Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, which oversees humanitarian issues, adopted the resolution by consensus on Tuesday.
The resolution condemned the "long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights in North Korea."
It expressed deep concerns over the North's human rights abuses, pointing to the UN Commission of Inquiry's 2014 report which details abuses ranging from torture and rape to public executions and retaliation against asylum seekers repatriated from abroad.
Japan's Ambassador to the UN Koro Bessho said that North Korean authorities continue to use the country's resources for its nuclear and missile programs.
[Sound bite: Koro Bessho - Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations (English)]
"Despite the people's need and successive Security Council resolutions, the DPRK authorities continue to divert their resources into pursuing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles over the welfare of its people. Such a decision itself constitutes a serious human rights violation."
The resolution also urged the UN Security Council to take appropriate action to sanction those responsible for the violations and refer the North's human rights situation to the International Criminal Court.
This year, the resolution newly called on the North Korean government to resume reunions of families separated by the Korean War and provide foreign detainees with access to diplomatic missions and other necessary arrangements to "confirm their status and to communicate with their families."
Ja Song-nam, North Korea's ambassador to the UN told the committee ahead of the vote that the government "categorically rejects" the resolution.
[Sound bite: Ja Song Nam, Permanent Representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the United Nations (English)]
"The indiscriminate blockade under the pretext of implementing the sanctions resolutions is being imposed to the DPRK cutting the delivery of medical equipment and medicine for patients, disabled persons, mothers, and children, and creating obstacles to the production of educational equipment and nutritional food for children."
The resolution is expected to be formally adopted at a plenary General Assembly meeting next month.
It would mark the 13th straight year for the General Assembly to adopt a North Korean human rights resolution.
The South Korean Foreign Ministry on Wednesday issued a statement hailing the adoption of the resolution, noting that it particularly addressed the human rights of families separated by the Korean War and foreigners detained in North Korea.
Alannah Hill, KBS World Radio News.