North Korea has expressed its willingness to “faithfully implement” international conventions on human rights, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Tuesday.
The report came on the day North Korea reported that the UN special rapporteur on the rights of people with disabilities Catalina Devandas-Aguilar had wrapped a rare visit to the DPRK.
Devandas-Aguilar’s visit to Pyongyang and South Hwanghae Province was the first-ever by “an independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council,” according to a written statement by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
As part of the six-day trip, Devandas-Aguilar held talks with North Korean Minister of Public Health, Kang Ha Guk, on May 4.
KCNA said the purpose of the visit was to examine the general condition of the disabled in North Korea and to discuss issues related to the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which the DPRK ratified in December 2016.
The possibility of providing technical support for Pyongyang was discussed during the visit, according to the KCNA, but the North cast doubt on the legitimacy of UN special rapporteurs.
“We have a consistent stance that we never acknowledge the UN special rapporteur on the DPRK human rights issues as we completely reject human rights resolutions against the DPRK written based on the false testimony and fabricated data,” KCNA reported.
Pyongyang said the purpose of the human rights activities of the UN was to “overthrow the socialist system.”
“Our side puts emphasis on sincere dialogue and cooperation in the field of the international human rights,” KCNA said.
“We invited the UN special rapporteur on the rights of people with disabilities under United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to visit our country and did our best to fruitfully proceed with her visit based on our stance to faithfully carry out international human rights treaties including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) that we joined.”
KCNA reported that Devandas-Aguilar had assessed that the exchange of opinions with the Supreme People’s Assembly Presidium and other institutions had been “positive.”
The rapporteur obtained “valuable and specific materials” which will be used to write a visit report to be submitted to the 37th session of UNHRC, the reported added.
The UN Human Rights Office in Seoul said on Tuesday that Devandas-Aguilar had interacted with only one wheelchair user and that her efforts had been focused on deaf and blind people.
“I recommend the government to engage in awareness-raising campaigns to ensure that the correct terminology is used to refer to persons with disabilities,” the office said in a written statement, quoting Devandas-Aguilar as having said at a news conference held on Monday in Pyongyang.
“I was also informed that families are reluctant to expose children and adults with disabilities in the community and that women and girls with disabilities are in particular ashamed to participate in community activities due to the strong stigma attached to disability.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: DPRK Today
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