North Korea says UN human rights expert is 'US puppet'

North Korea says UN human rights expert is 'US puppet'

Elizabeth Salmon (L) was recently appointed as the UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea
Elizabeth Salmon (L) was recently appointed as the UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea. Photo: Jung Yeon-je / AFP/File
Source: AFP

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Pyongyang on Friday accused the newly appointed UN special rapporteur on North Korean human rights of being a "puppet of the US" and making "unpardonable reckless remarks".

The accusations came as the new rapporteur, Elizabeth Salmon, visited Seoul on her first trip since being appointed to the role last month.

Salmon, a Peruvian professor of international law, arrived earlier this week and has held meetings with South Korean officials and civic group members, including female defectors from the North, to discuss the situation in the isolated, nuclear-armed country.

"We had already made clear our principled stand that we neither recognise nor deal with any 'special rapporteur' who is merely a puppet of the US," said an unnamed spokesman for North Korea's foreign ministry in an English statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

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The spokesman said the rapporteur's activities were cover for an American smear campaign, accusing Salmon of daring to make "unpardonable reckless remarks encroaching upon our inviolable system and sovereign rights".

"The UN should no longer allow its name and mission to be misused for the US hostile policy towards the DPRK," the spokesman added, using the acronym for North Korea's official name.

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The statement referred to Salmon as "he" in an apparent mistake of her gender.

Salmon said in a statement released Friday that she was "fully aware that the DPRK Government opposes country-specific human rights mandates including my mandate."

"However, that does not mean that we should not try," she said, adding that she hoped Pyongyang would reconsider and engage with her.

"We should not give up on engagement with the DPRK because what is at stake are the lives of the North Korean people and their human rights," she added.

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The UN established the special rapporteur on North Korean human rights in 2004 as international concerns grew over allegations of grave violations in the reclusive state.

None of the special envoys has been granted access to the country for a fact-finding mission.

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Source: AFP

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