Foreign detainees in North Korea are reportedly being denied due process in court and being held in inhumane conditions, a United Nations investigator said on Friday.
Tomas Ojea Quintana, UN special rapporteur for human rights in North Korea, welcomed the release this week of Canadian Pastor Hyeon Soo Lim on humanitarian grounds. He had served more than two years of a sentence of hard labor for life on charges of plotting to overthrow the regime.
But at least nine other detainees - three Americans and six citizens of South Korea - remain in custody in North Korea, the UN expert said. Otto Warmbier, a US.student held for 17 months, was released in a coma in June and died within days.
"I am concerned by reports that detainees are not receiving due legal process and are being held in inhumane conditions," Ojea Quintana said in a statement issued in Geneva.
North Korean authorities are obliged to provide foreigners with access to consular support and an interpreter, "but these entitlements cannot be taken for granted, based on the information I have been receiving”, he said.