UN committee condemns North Korea for building missiles as people starve

A photo taken on July 24, 2017 shows a group of women selling fruit beside a road on the outskirts of Sinchon, south of Pyongyang. ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

A key UN committee has approved a resolution condemning North Korea for diverting its resources to pursue nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles instead of helping its people, over half of whom are in need of food and medical care.

The resolution was adopted without a vote Tuesday by the General Assembly’s human rights committee. It now goes to the 193-member assembly which is certain to adopt it in December.

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The resolution, co-sponsored by 61 countries, condemns North Korea for “diverting its resources into pursuing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles over the welfare of its people.”

The measure condemned “the long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights” in North Korea, and said those violations have led to severe hunger and malnutrition.

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It expressed “very serious concerns” that Pyongyang has carried out torture, summary executions, arbitrary detention and abductions of foreign nationals within and outside its territory.

After the death of US student Otto Warmbier, the resolution stressed that North Korea must provide detained foreign nationals with access to consular services and allow them to communicate with their families.

Warmbier, a 22-year-old student, died in June just days after he was released by Pyongyang and sent home in a coma following his arrest in January 2016 while visiting the North as a tourist.

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His parents have said their son showed signs of torture, including teeth that appeared to have been “rearranged,” and hands and feet that were disfigured.

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On behalf of the EU, Estonia’s deputy U.N. ambassador Minna-Liina Lind accused North Korea of committing serious human rights violations “in a widespread and systematic way.”

North Korea’s U.N. Ambassador Ja Song Nam said the government “categorically rejects” the resolution, calling it “a product of the political and military confrontation, plot and conspiracy of the United States and other hostile forces.”

-With files from Agence France-Presse

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