The UK government must shoulder some of the blame for not tackling ongoing human rights abuses in North Korea, a British peer has said.
Speaking at the launch of a report documenting changes in North Korea over the past decade, Lord Alton of Liverpool accused ministers of failing to act in response to ongoing crimes in the pariah state.
'There are 30 Articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It's hard to think of any that are not being breached in North Korea,' he told MPs, peers and supporters in the Houses of Parliament on Monday night.
These abuses amount, he said, to 'all the sorts of things we would need if ever the International Criminal Court were ever to initiate a full bodied inquiry'. He added that despite being urged to act by the United Nations' human rights commissioner, the United Nations' Security Council, of which the UK is a permanent member, has failed to do so.
'We as one of the permanent members of the security council has got something to answer for in our failure to do that,' said Lord Alton.
He added that although escapees from North Korea are often being forcibly returned by China, the UK has failed to raise this with Chinese ministers despite increasingly close ties and the Prime Minister's recent visit.
'Much has changed in North Korea in the past 10 years but the appalling human rights situation has not,' said Lord Alton. 'More than 200,000 people are incarcerated in the regime's gulags where more than 300,000 have been killed over the last 20 years. The regime rapes, tortures and indoctrinates and lets millions of people starve to death. Like Stalin, Kim Jong Un uses mocks trials and purges and public executions.'
The report, Movies, Markets and Mass Surveillance: Human Rights in North Korea after a Decade of Change, was launched by the All Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea on Monday night at an event chaired by Fiona Bruce, Conservative MP for Congleton and Lord Alton.
It documents the extent of change in North Korea since Christian Solidarity Worldwide's initial landmark report in 2007 called on the United Nation to investigate crimes against humanity. That subsequent UN inquiry found that the gravity, scale and nature' of the violations of human rights in North Korea 'reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.'
Since then the situation has not changed much.
'North Korea's nuclear tests and threats continue to dominate the headlines,' the report said.
However CSW's East Asia team leader Ben Rogers said there was a 'flicker of hope' in the mindset of North Koreans.
'State media show row upon row of marching soldiers and patriotic citizens, glorying in their country's military might. It would be easy to conclude that these citizens are simply brainwashed servants of the regime. Yet behind these carefully choreographed scenes North Korea is changing, and the change-makers are the people themselves,' the report says.
But it adds: 'North Koreans, especially young people, are shaping their own destiny, and gradually pushing the boundaries in everything from fashion and dating to enterprise and trade.
'Initiatives aimed at improving human rights in North Korea should therefore focus on what we can do to support these change-makers. In the words of one expert, himself a North Korean: "The best way is for North Koreans to tackle these issues themselves, with support from the international community."'