Iran, North Korea come under fire at UN over human rights

UN Security Council members cast their votes in favor of the adoption of the agenda during a meeting on alleged human rights abuses by North Korea on Dec 10, 2015.
UN Security Council members cast their votes in favor of the adoption of the agenda during a meeting on alleged human rights abuses by North Korea on Dec 10, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

UNITED NATIONS, United States (AFP) - The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday (Dec 17) criticised Iran and condemned North Korea over human rights violations in resolutions adopted by the 193-nation body.

A total of 119 countries voted in favour of the resolution condemning "gross" violations in North Korea and encouraging the Security Council to refer Pyongyang to the International Criminal Court.

The measure drafted by the European Union and Japan was opposed by 19 countries including Pyongyang ally China, Russia, Sudan, Cuba, Iran, Egypt, Zimbabwe and Venezuela. Forty-eight countries abstained.

The vote showed stronger condemnation of North Korea compared to last year, when a similar resolution was adopted by a vote of 116 to 20, with 53 abstentions.

The resolution demands that a vast network of prison camps in North Korea thought to be holding 100,000 inmates living in appalling conditions be shut down.

North Korea has reacted angrily to the measure, calling it a "product of political confrontation" by the United States and its allies.

A Canadian-drafted resolution expressing "serious concern" over the use of the death penalty in Iran was adopted by a vote of 81 to 37, with 67 abstentions.

Iran has come under sharp criticism over its draconian use of the death penalty with more than 800 people executed this year, the highest total in years.

It was the first resolution on Iran's human rights record to be adopted since the historic nuclear accord reached with big powers.

Among the countries that voted against the resolution were China, Cuba, Russia, Syria, South Africa, India, Indonesia, Iraq and Lebanon.

The resolutions are non-binding, but are politically important as an international judgement of those regimes.