A United Nations human rights expert issued a warning that North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un could be tried for alleged crimes against humanity. Marzuki Darusman, he UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, issued the report on Feb 15.
“[Kim Jong Un and other senior North Korean leaders] may be investigated, and if found to be responsible, held accountable for crimes against humanity committed under their leadership,” the report read, according to Voice of America.
The report advocated the use of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to try senior North Korean leaders, which would require approval of the U.N. Security Council. China, the only ally of North Korea, would likely veto any attempt to try North Korean officials in the ICC.
The North Korean government is reportedly being accused of crimes not seen since the Nazis occupied Germany. The alleged crimes include murder, slavery, torture and political imprisonment.
This is not the first time North Korea has been hit with damning accusations of human rights abuses. A U.N. Commission of Inquiry published a report in February 2014 concluding that the North Korean government has committed human rights abuses that have no parallel in the modern world, reports Human Rights Watch.
The recent accusations of crimes against humanity come following international opposition to a long-range rocket launched by North Korea on Feb. 7, reports CNN. An emergency U.N. Security Council meeting was called immediately following the launch, which violated U.N. resolutions.
After the rocket launch, China has reportedly shown more willingness to take a tougher stance towards North Korea. A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman said China expresses "regret" regarding North Korea's actions. However, it remains unclear whether China will ever agree to increased sanctions on North Korea.
Darusman’s report suggests that North Korea has not made any visible improvements in human rights in the last two years, when the U.N. concluded its special investigation into the country, Voice of America notes. The U.N. Human Rights Council is set to review the report in March.