WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called out North Korea and other nations on Friday for forcing disappearances of citizens viewed as a threat to their regimes.
The statement marked International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, established by the United Nations.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends a UN Security Council meeting on Aug. 20. Yonhap
"Authoritarian regimes often disappear advocates for freedom and human rights, journalists, political opposition and others to silence the voices of those who challenge their authority or express dissent, and as a tool of oppression," Pompeo said in the statement.
"In North Korea, authorities disappear religious practitioners and those accused of political crimes," he said.
The statement also listed Burma, Syria, Venezuela and Iraq as regimes where enforced disappearances have been used against ethnic minorities, members of parliament, the military and civilians.
"The practice of enforced disappearance is unconscionable, and regimes that use this practice are proving they are weak and fragile," Pompeo said. "We call for justice for victims of enforced disappearances and accountability for those who commit these crimes, and urge all countries to abandon this unlawful practice."
North Korea has bristled at all charges of human rights violations, calling them a US-led attempt to topple the regime.
The latest charge comes as US-North Korea negotiations on dismantling the regime's nuclear weapons program have stalled.