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UN draft resolution asks UN to refer North Korea to ICC

FILE - In this Oct. 8, 2015 file photo, North Koreans gather at a monument built 10 years ago to honor the founding of the Workers' Party of North Korea, in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea's ruling party says it will hold its biggest convention in decades next May. The Workers' Party said Friday, Oct. 30, 2015 its 7th congress will be convened as it's faced with "the heavy yet sacred task" of build a thriving nation. But it didn't elaborate on what the party's highest-level body will determine. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

United Nations: The European Union and Japan have circulated a draft UN resolution that condemns “gross” human rights violations in North Korea and encourages the UN Security Council to refer the reclusive Asian nation to the International Criminal Court.

The draft General Assembly resolution encourages the council to consider targeted sanctions against those “who appear to be most responsible” for acts that a groundbreaking UN commission of inquiry report early last year said “may constitute crimes against humanity.”

Marzuki Darusman, the special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, yesterday put the spotlight on forced labor in North Korea as a human rights violation in a report to the General Assembly Wednesday that also cited summary executions, arbitrary detention, torture, massive ill-treatment of individuals in political prison camps and severe discrimination based on social class.

The draft resolution, obtained by The Associated Press, strongly asks the North Korean government to immediately end human rights violations, close prison camps and tackle the root causes leading to people fleeing the country.

The 193-member General Assembly is expected to vote on the resolution in December.

North Korea’s dismal human rights situation has been under attack for more than a year. The groundbreaking UN inquiry forced Pyongyang to discuss an issue it usually disdains.

Last December, the General Assembly approved a non-binding resolution asking the Security Council to refer North Korea’s human rights situation to the ICC but the council so far has not taken any action, mainly because of opposition from China, an ally of Pyongyang.

This year’s draft resolution expresses “grave concern” at the commission of inquiry’s findings and the lack of accountability.

It stresses North Korea’s responsibility “to protect its population from crimes against humanity” and condemns “the longstanding and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights” in the country.

It singles out rights violations including reports of torture, the extensive system of prison camps, limits on freedom of movement, and severe restrictions on freedoms of thought, conscience, religion, opinion, peaceful assembly, association, privacy and access to information.