North Korea rejects UN rights investigator report as 'malicious slander'

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  • North Korea rejected a UN report on the state of vulnerable people in the country.
  • UN special rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana said vulnerable people risked starvation.
  • North Korea reported no Covid-19 infections.

A report this month by a United Nations rights investigator expressing concern about the human rights and humanitarian situation in North Korea is "malicious slander", a North Korean organisation said on Tuesday.

In his latest report, Tomas Ojea Quintana, UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, said the country's most vulnerable people risk starvation after it slipped deeper into isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic.

READ | US envoy urges North Korea to stop missile tests

Ojea Quintana said international sanctions imposed over North Korea's nuclear weapons programme should be eased to provide more aid, but he also criticised abuses such as political prison camps and said self-imposed border lockdowns to prevent a Covid-19 outbreak had worsened conditions.

An unidentified spokesperson for the Korea Association for Human Rights Studies said in a statement carried by state news agency KCNA:

The 'special rapporteur', not being content with distorting our reality, has pointed a finger at our 'people's livelihood' and viciously picked on the most realistic and appropriate anti-epidemic measures taken by our state for our own specific need in order to cope with the global epidemic.

The statement said North Korea does not recognise Ojea Quintana's mandate, and accused him of being part of a US-backed scheme to interfere with the internal affairs of other countries.

The statement said:

Our state takes full responsibility for the life security and livelihood of our people, and we have never asked anyone to worry about the living conditions of our people.

Leader Kim Jong Un said in June the food situation was "tense" because of natural disasters last year, and acknowledged that citizens had faced sacrifices during the pandemic.

North Korea has not reported any Covid-19 cases and has imposed strict anti-virus measures, including border closures and domestic travel curbs.

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