UN prolongs North Korea human rights investigation

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Photo - North Korean U.N. Ambassador So Se Pyong speaks to reporters at a news conference on Tuesday, March 25, 2014, in his country's mission along the lakeshore in Geneva, Switzerland. (AP Photo/John Heilprin)
North Korean U.N. Ambassador So Se Pyong speaks to reporters at a news conference on Tuesday, March 25, 2014, in his country's mission along the lakeshore in Geneva, Switzerland. (AP Photo/John Heilprin)
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GENEVA (AP) — After a testy exchange between the United States and North Korea, a special investigator won approval Friday to keep investigating suspected crimes against humanity and other abuses in the reclusive Asian nation.

The U.N.'s 47-nation Human Rights Council approved the renewal in a resolution on North Korea's human rights that passed by a vote of 30-6, with 11 abstentions. China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam voted against it. The vote allows U.N. special rapporteur Marzuki Darusman of Indonesia to pick up where an international commission left off last month.

The commission's report, based on testimony from hundreds of victims, concluded crimes against humanity were committed in North Korea. It cited mass killings and torture, and called for government leaders to face prosecution in the International Criminal Court.

China and North Korea have dismissed the commission's report, but Greece's U.N. Ambassador Alexandros Alexandris said the resolution was needed to follow up on the commission's work. The resolution also condemns "the long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations and other human rights abuses" in North Korea and urges the country to begin cooperating with the U.N. investigation.

The three-member U.N. commission of inquiry had been headed by retired Australian judge Michael Kirby, who warned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that he may be held accountable for orchestrating widespread crimes against civilians, ranging from systematic executions to torture, rape and mass starvation.

But North Korea's envoy, So Se Pyong, said the resolution's sponsors had turned the council "into a stage of political confrontation." Earlier in the week, he summoned reporters to his country's mission in Geneva to denounce the U.S. for undermining North Korea's reputation.

The head of the U.S. delegation, Paula Schriefer, interrupted the North Korean envoy three times Friday to complain he was straying off-topic and inappropriately accusing other nations.

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