Council President appoints Members of Commission of Inquiry on the Democratic People’s Republic in Korea

Geneva, 7 May 2013 -- The President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Remigiusz A. Henczel (Poland), announced today the appointment of Michael Donald Kirby of Australia and Sonja Biserko of Serbia who will join Marzuki Darusman, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, to serve as the members of the commission of inquiry to investigate human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, mandated by the Council at its last session. Mr. Kirby will serve as Chair of the three-person commission.

The Council decided to establish, for a period of one year, the commission of inquiry at its twenty-second session on 22 March 2013 to investigate the systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with a view to ensuring full accountability, in particular for violations which may amount to crimes against humanity.

According to Council resolution 22/13, among the violations to be investigated are those pertaining to the right to food, those associated with prison camps, torture and inhuman treatment, arbitrary detention, discrimination, freedom of expression, the right to life, freedom of movement, and enforced disappearances, including in the form of abductions of nationals of other States.

The resolution also authorized a one-year extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a post that was created in 2004 and currently filled by Mr. Darusman, and decided that he should serve as one of the members of the three-person commission. Through this decision the Council also urged the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to ensure full, rapid and unimpeded access of humanitarian assistance and for the Government to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur and the commission of inquiry.

The same resolution requested that the commission present an oral update to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-fourth session in September 2013 and to the General Assembly at its sixty-eight session, and a written report to the Council at its twenty-fifth session in March 2014.

Biographies of the members of the Commission of Inquiry

Michael Donald Kirby (Australia) is a retired judge, jurist, and academic who is a former Justice of the High Court of Australia, serving from 1996 to 2009. Among the many posts he held was President of the International Commission of Jurists (1995-98); Member of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee (1996); President of the Court of Appeal of Solomon Islands (1995-1996); Member of the World Health Organisation’s Global Commission on AIDS (1988-1991); and Special Representative of UN Secretary-General for Cambodia (1994-96). His special concerns have included human rights, the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and the impact of science and technology on society and its laws. In the past he has been involved in issues raised by HIV/AIDS, including sexuality and the law.

Marzuki Darusman (Indonesia) is currently the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as designated in August 2010 by the UN Human Rights Council. He is a member of the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons, and has served in various capacities at the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission. In 2010, Mr. Darusman was assigned as Chair of the UN Secretary General's Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka. In 2009, Mr. Darusman was appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to a three-member UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Mr. Marzuki Darusman was the Attorney General of the Republic of Indonesia for the period 1999 to 2001. Mr. Darusman is a Law graduate from the Catholic University of Parahyangan Bandung, Indonesia and has received an Honorary Doctorate in Law from the same university.

Sonja Biserko (Serbia) is founder and president of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia. She has written extensively on the wars in the former Yugoslavia and war crimes including on the Srebrenica genocide, the fall of Vukovar, and accounts of the trials of Slobodan Milosevic and Vojislav Seselj. She was a founding member of a European movement in Yugoslavia and the Centre for Anti-War Action in the Belgrade Forum for International Relations. She is senior fellow in the United States Institute of Peace and in 1994 she received the Human Rights Award of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights in New York. In 2005 she was one of 1,000 women in the group 1,000 Women for Peace nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2009 she was awarded the 2009 Human Rights Prize of the City of Weimar (Germany) jointly with Jestina Mukoko. In 2010 she was awarded the Human Rights Award of the University of Oslo. Ms. Biserko holds a degree from the University of Belgrade Faculty of Economics.

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