For the first time, North Korea has agreed to a visit by the UN rights expert of people with disabilities, a minor privilege after years of criticism of Pyongyang's record from the U.N. Human Rights Council. They granted access to Catalina Devandas-Aguilar, the special rapporteur on disabled people's rights next week, the United Nations said on Thursday.
The UN rights office said in a statement, the visit of Devandas-Aguilar is from May 3-8 is the first ever to North Korea by an independent expert designated by the Council following an invitation from Pyongyang.
North Korea has consistently denounced the Council's resolutions as a conspiracy by the United States and other "hostile forces". It has not allowed any U.N. human rights investigators to visit specifically those focusing on North Korea itself.North Korea was accused by the rights council of committing crimes against humanity and detaining up to 120,000 people in brutal prison camps.
Last month, North Korean diplomats boycotted a rights council session on abuses in North Korea amid rising tension on the divided peninsula following its latest missile tests and two nuclear tests last year. They branded the council’s work as a mere political attack. Devandas-Aguilar said the upcoming visit marks an important chance to study the situation in the country particularly focusing on children living with disabilities.She said in her statement, her upcoming visit to Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) represents a key opportunity to learn first-hand about national realities, laws, policies and programs concerning people with disabilities.
Devandas-Aguilar will explore the challenges and opportunities the government will face in implementing that agreement.
North Korea approved an international convention on the rights of disabled people last December.
During her six-day mission, Devandas-Aguilar plans to hold a press conference in Pyongyang at the end of her visit and to submit her findings next year. The UN expert will visit Pyongyang and the South Hwanghae Province.