Former High Court judge Michael Kirby
Former High Court judge Michael Kirby

Kirby leads investigation into North Korea's violations

FORMER High Court judge Michael Kirby will head up a United Nations commission investigating human rights violations in North Korea.

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr welcomed the announcement in Geneva overnight that Mr Kirby would chair the UN Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry, which was established in March.

The three-member team is expected to begin work in June, with the investigation to take one year.

The commission's mandate is to investigate a number of human rights violations, including the right to food, violations associated with prison camps, torture and inhuman treatment, arbitrary detention, violations of the right to life, freedom of movement and enforced disappearances, discrimination and violations of freedom of expression.

"The Honourable Michael Kirby's strong legal credentials and previous experience in the UN system make him an ideal candidate for the position," Senator Carr said.

"Australia is deeply concerned by the human rights situation in the DPRK and I'm pleased that Australia co-sponsored and supported the UN resolution which established the Commission of Inquiry.

"It is time the North Korean government acted to address human rights and there should be no doubt about Australia's ongoing support of mechanisms to ensure action is taken."

Mr Kirby stood down from the High Court in 2009 after a 13-year stint.