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The U.N. special rapporteur on North Korea's human rights situation on Thursday called for accountability for the serious human rights abuses in the communist country.

 

Marzuki Darusman made the appeal during his last official visit to South Korea, saying "nothing has changed" in the two years since the U.N. Commission of Inquiry released a landmark report accusing the North of grave crimes against humanity, including keeping political prison camps, abducting foreigners and forcing people to starvation.

 

"Regrettably, the human rights situation in the DRPK has not improved, and crimes against humanity documented by the Commission of Inquiry appear to continue," he said during a press conference held in downtown Seoul, referring to the North by the acronym of its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. "It is time to take stock of what has been done in the last two years and to move forward to pursue accountability for the crimes outlined in the report."

 

A key question that needs to be addressed is who should be held accountable for the crimes, he said.

 

"Is it a handful of people at the top? Is it a larger number of people of the regime? These are matters that need to be addressed and the earlier we bring this out into the open, the better the public and the government (in South Korea) is prepared to move on these issues in a concerted way."

 

Darusman said he called for greater interaction between South Korea's government and civil society during his meetings with representatives of both sides.

 

"It would seem that the government of (South) Korea has geared itself towards the eventuality that accountability will have to be taken within the context of the unification process," he said.

 

Darusman, who has been serving as the special rapporteur since 2010, will submit his final report to the U.N. Human Rights Council before his mandate expires next March.

 

During his term, he made several requests to visit the North, but Pyongyang refused to grant him entry.

 

North Korea flatly rejects any accusations of human rights abuses, calling them a U.S.-led attempt to topple its regime. (Yonhap News Agency)