North Korea hits out at UN meeting over abuses

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea hit out early Saturday at an informal meeting of the United Nations Security Council in which the body was urged to slap sanctions on Pyongyang officials responsible for human rights abuses.

Michael Kirby - the head of a special UN inquiry into North Korean rights abuses - had told Thursday's get-together convened by Australia, France and the United States that "perpetrators must be held accountable".

"It is necessary to deter further crimes," the Australian judge said, adding that he also wanted the reclusive regime hauled before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for prosecution.

Kirby's Commission of Inquiry on North Korea released a hard-hitting report on the nuclear-armed totalitarian state in February that documented a range of gross human rights abuses, including extermination, enslavement and sexual violence.

"The commission of inquiry therefore recommends to the Security Council the adoption of targeted sanctions against those individuals most responsible for crimes against humanity," he told the informal meeting.

North Korea refused to cooperate with the probe and said the evidence was "fabricated" by "forces hostile" to the country.

Pyongyang did not send a representative to Thursday's meeting, which was also snubbed by China - North Korea's sole major ally - and Russia.

On Saturday, the North's official news agency KCNA released typically robust quotes attributed to a spokesman for Pyongyang's foreign ministry in which he slammed the meeting and Kirby's report.

"Such frantic racket is aimed at tarnishing the image of the dignified DPRK at any cost and bringing down the ideology and social system chosen by the Korean people in the long run," he said.

"The US and the West had better put under control the worst human rights abuses in their own countries and mind their own business," the statement added.

"The more vociferous the US and its allied forces become in their human rights racket intended to hurt the prestige of our dignified Republic and its social system, the stronger our single-minded unity will grow and the faster the speed of our advance towards the final victory will become."