Botswana cuts diplomatic ties with N. Korea over rights abuses

Botswana has announced it is cutting diplomatic relations with North Korea, saying it "does not wish to be associated with a government which continues to display such total disregard for the human rights of its citizens."

The African country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, in a statement posted on its website earlier this week, said it "has decided to terminate, with immediate effect, diplomatic and consular relations with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea)."

It said the decision was taken on the basis of a recently released U.N. report that details systematic, widespread and grave human rights violations by North Korean authorities.

"The deplorable acts catalogued in the United Nations' report are startling and warrant strong condemnation by the international community. As a member of the international community of nations, North Korea has the responsibility for the welfare and wellbeing of its people and respect for human rights which have unfortunately for too long been seriously lacking in that country," it said.

"Botswana wishes to convey its heartfelt sympathies to the people of North Korea who are currently subjected to inhuman treatment under the leadership of Kim Jong Un."

Early last year, Botswana suspended bilateral cooperation with North Korea, citing the threat posed by that country to international peace and security.

According to the U.N.-mandated report released on Feb. 17, a grim array of human rights abuses, including "unspeakable atrocities," have been and continue to be committed in North Korea, driven by "policies established at the highest level of state."

"The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world," says the 400-page report, based on first-hand testimony from victims and witnesses.

It calls for urgent action to address the rights situation in the country, including referral to the International Criminal Court to render accountable all those, including possibly Kim Jong Un, who may be responsible for the crimes against humanity.