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UN monitor urges China to bring North Korea to heel

A UN monitor Wednesday urged China to bring ally North Korea to heel over its record of systemic human rights abuse, likening Beijing's clout to that of Washington with Israel.

GENEVA: A UN monitor on Wednesday urged China to bring ally North Korea to heel over its record of systemic human rights abuse, likening Beijing's clout to that of Washington with Israel.

"How are we going to persuade China that they are in a position to do this? They don't accept that they have any kind of influence on the North Koreans," Marzuki Darusman told reporters.

"This is the kind of denial that the United States has, that it has no hold on Israel. It's an analogy, but nevertheless, it's substantive," said Darusman, a former chief prosecutor of Indonesia.

He said it was also up to the entire international community to step up efforts to call Pyongyang to account.

"North Korea is isolated. But that saddles us all with the problem," he said.

Darusman has monitored North Korea since 2010 for the UN Human Rights Council, despite a refusal to cooperate by the nation.

He is also part of a UN-mandated inquiry team that earlier this year issued a damning 400-page report detailing endemic abuses by North Korea.

It spotlighted rape, torture and enslavement, saying they could amount to crimes against humanity and comparing them to the actions of Nazi Germany.

The inquiry team has called for North Korea to be hauled before the International Criminal Court -- potentially to prosecute dictator Kim Jong-un and other regime figures.

"What is happening in North Korea cannot just be attributed to one single person at the top, although that single person at the very top is culpable," said Darusman.

But referral to the ICC requires approval by the UN Security Council, where China wields a veto.

- North Korea's "facade" -

Simply pointing the finger is no longer enough, Darusman said.

"It doesn't do justice to the enormity and range of issues that prevail there in the country," he said.

Barred from North Korea by Pyongyang, the UN monitors have interviewed defectors in South Korea and other countries, and used satellite imagery to build an idea of North Korea's network of concentration camps.

North Korea has dubbed the witnesses "human scum" and, in regular attacks at the UN Human Rights Council, charged that probes are part of a "vicious, hostile policy" piloted by Washington.

Darusman blasted that position.

"It's a convenient facade that the North Koreans are adopting, by continuing with their denials but at the same time seeming to engage by being present at the UN Human Rights Council sessions and responding to the findings by continuing with the theme that all the findings are fabricated," he said.

The United Nations plans to deploy a full-time North Korea human rights team that would be based in the South Korean capital Seoul.

Pyongyang has threatened that anyone involved will be "ruthlessly punished".

Darusman said there was no room for such rhetoric.

"We just need to go back to the basics. The country is part of the UN and therefore it's bound by the practices and norms of the United Nations," he said.

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