The United States called on North Korea on Thursday to "dismantle all political prison camps" and release all political prisoners, who it said numbered between 80,000 and 120,000.
In remarks to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Mark Cassayre, U.S. charge d'affaires, also urged North Korean authorities to allow aid workers in the isolated country unrestricted movement and access to populations in need.
The top U.S. envoy in Geneva alleged North Korea's rights record "is deplorable and has no parallel in the modern world."
North Korean ambassador told the 47-member forum that "people's rights to life and fundamental freedoms are fully ensured" in his country but that sanctions were hampering their enjoyment.
Ambassador Han Tae Song said in Geneva that North Korea's government made a "devoted effort for the good of the people" and "human rights violations, in whatever form, are intolerable."
North Korea's human rights record was discussed Thursday as part of a U.N.-backed process known as the Universal Period Review, which examines the rights records of all countries roughly every five years.