North Korea tells U.N. to Drop Call for ICC Referral


North Korea has told the United Nations that its call to refer Pyongyang to the International Criminal Court is invalid after a prominent defector retracted part of his testimony to a U.N. rights inquiry.

North Korea made the argument in a letter dated Wednesday from Ambassador Ja Song Nam to the U.N. General Assembly and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

In the letter, the envoy branded Shin Dong-hyuk a "swindler" and a "parasite" who has been "pretending to be a 'survivor from the political prison camps' which are non-existent in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea."

Shin admitted this week that elements of his best-selling gulag survivor book "Escape from Camp 14" were inaccurate, although he stressed that the crucial details of his suffering and torture still stood.

The well-known defector was one of the prominent witnesses to the U.N. Commission of Inquiry which concluded in its report last year that North Korea was committing human rights violations "without parallel in the contemporary world."

In his letter, the ambassador charged that the commission report "was proved to be a fraudulent document fabricated by false testimonies of liars like Shin Dong-hyuk."

"It is needless to say, all the 'resolutions' on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea forcibly adopted by the General Assembly on the basis of such false documents are invalid," wrote the ambassador. 

The inquiry's findings provided the basis for a landmark resolution adopted by the assembly last month that called on the Security Council to consider referring North Korean to the ICC for crimes against humanity.

The resolution was followed by the first-ever Security Council meeting on Pyongyang's rights record, which was held despite opposition from China.

The North Korean ambassador "strongly requested that the United Nations should take an impartial and fair stand" on his country.

Shin apologized on his Facebook page on Sunday, saying he had "forever wanted to conceal and hide part of my past."

The retractions refer to his account of being burned and tortured at age 13 after a failed attempt to escape the camp, which Shin now admits took place when he was 20.

Shin also said that his mother and brother were executed in the notorious Camp 14, but he later said this happened in a different camp.

Michael Kirby, the retired Australian judge who headed the U.N. Commission of Inquiry, said Shin's partial retractions were "substantially immaterial" to the panel's findings or recommendations.