December 12, 2015 / 6:03 PM / 2 years ago

North Korea slams U.S. over U.N. meeting on human rights 'racket'

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - North Korea on Saturday blasted the United States for organizing a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on alleged human rights abuses in the reclusive Asian country that has been accused by a U.N. inquiry of abuses comparable to Nazi-era atrocities.

North Korean refugees Grace Jo (L) and Jung Gwang Il (R) look on from the gallery during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on alleged human rights abuses by North Korea which has been accused by a U.N. inquiry of abuses comparable to Nazi-era atrocities at U.N. headquarters in New York, December 10, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar

China, Russia, Venezuela and Angola tried but failed on Thursday to stop the 15-nation council from holding its second meeting on human rights in North Korea. North Korean diplomats did not attend the session, at which U.N. officials as well as the United States and its allies accused Pyongyang of widespread abuses.

“We strongly denounce and categorically reject the U.S. convocation of another meeting of the U.N. Security Council aimed at finding fault with the ‘human rights’ in the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) despite opposition by many countries,” North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said, according to a statement sent to reporters by the country’s U.N. mission.

The United States and eight other council members voted in favor of holding the meeting. In addition to the four nations that opposed it, Nigeria and Chad abstained.

North Korea said the opposition to the meeting undercut the U.S. attempt to criticize Pyongyang.

“This revealed the sinister aim sought by the U.S. in its farce and hardened the objective understanding that the U.S. anti-DPRK ‘human rights’ racket is a product of its persistent hostile policy toward the DPRK,” the statement said.

It added that instead of looking at human rights, the council “should handle such issues as the U.S. harsh tortures and the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises.”

The council added the situation in North Korea, including human rights, to its agenda and held its first meeting on the issue a year ago despite objections at the time by China, an ally of North Korea, and Russia.

Previously, the council’s discussion of North Korea was limited to its nuclear weapons program.

The 193-member U.N. General Assembly has urged the U.N. Security Council to consider referring North Korea to the International Criminal Court after a U.N. Commission of Inquiry detailed wide-ranging abuses in the impoverished country. China is likely to veto such a move, diplomats said.

The commission of inquiry report detailed wide-ranging abuses in North Korea including prison camps, systematic torture, starvation and killings.

Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Will Dunham

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