Eight countries including the US and Germany accused North Korea of using the Coronavirus pandemic to crack down further on human rights, according to a UN Security Council (UNSC) statement.
The statement was released after a closed-door video-conference, organized by Germany, on Friday, December 11. The virtual meeting took place after several reports revealed the increase in executions in North Korea related to the global healthcare crisis and strict controls on movement in and around Pyongyang, the capital.
Following the meeting, members of the UNSC—Germany, Belgium, Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, the UK, the US, and Japan—said in a joint statement that people in DPRK are stripped of "nearly all their human rights, their freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, association, movement, and religion or belief, among many others".
The current situation of human rights in of Kim Jong Un-ruled North Korea "is appalling and gets worse by the day", said the eight nations in a joint declaration, which was read by Germany's UN ambassador, Christoph Heusgen. They also condemned the DPRK for prioritizing its nuclear weapons program over the needs of citizens, adding that the longstanding, systematic, and widespread violations of human rights are a "serious threat" to international security.
The statement noted that North Korea's isolation from the international community is worsening the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the people of DPRK. When the COVID-19 began to spread in January 2020, the country closed its borders with China, its largest trade partner and benefactor.
Kim Jong Un's government has been claiming that the country doesn't have a single COVID-19 case. But experts outside the country have disputed the claim considering North Korea's social and economical ties with China. Dr. Choi Jung Hun, a healthcare professional who defected from North Korea in 2012, earlier said that people in North Korea have died of the viral infection. "The health care system is very weak. They don't want to show that to the world. North Korea is a museum of viruses," he added.
Along with the border closure due to the pandemic, several natural disasters over the summer and international sanctions have crippled North Korea's economy, according to experts. But the world's most secretive country continues to say that everything is under control.
South Korean intelligence reported in November that the dictator of North Korea had ordered lockdowns in Pyongyang and ordered the execution of at least two people. According to the neighboring country, a money changer in Pyongyang was killed in October this year after being held responsible for falling exchange rates, and one official was executed in August for breaching the import restrictions.