SEOUL - A UN investigator said on Thursday there was enough evidence to hold North Korean leader Kim Jong Un accountable for "massive" human rights atrocities committed by the state.
The comments by Marzuki Darusman, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, were some of the strongest yet from UN officials about Kim's responsibility for what they say are widespread abuses in the isolated country.
A UN inquiry concluded in a Feb. 17 report that North Korean security chiefs and possibly even Kim himself should face international justice for ordering systematic torture, starvation and killings that were comparable to Nazi-era atrocities.
The report "was able to point unequivocally to the responsibility and the culpability (for) these massive human rights violations to a single source of policy decision-making in the country," Darusman told a forum in Seoul.
"And therefore it's only now that we are in the position to in fact directly put culpability on the supreme leader for these massive human rights violations." A UN resolution drafted by the European Union and Japan urges North Korea's referral to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. It does not single Kim out by name.
North Korea has dismissed the UN inquiry as part of a US plot aimed at destroying the country's political system. Its diplomats have also been on a vigorous campaign in recent months to counter the moves to drag North Korea to the ICC. "That, perhaps, has somewhat agitated the North Korean delegation," Darusman said, referring to the focus on Kim.
The draft resolution will likely go to a UN General Assembly committee that deals with human rights as early as next week. If it is approved, it will be put to a vote at the General Assembly in December.
Only the 15-member Security Council can refer the situation in North Korea to the ICC, but diplomats say China, North Korea's main benefactor, would likely veto such a move.