Yad Vashem has called for “immediate action” after a landmark UN report on North Korea this week documented ongoing “crimes against humanity” that its authors say are reminiscent of those committed by the Nazis.

Australian High Court Justice Michael Kirby spent a year gathering harrowing testimony from women forced to drown their babies and crematorium workers told to burn the bodies of those who died through starvation.

Kirby said there were “many parallels” between the evidence he had heard and crimes committed by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

The report describes the widespread use of torture, government-run terror and the abuse of men, women and children, including systematically starving people to death.

The gravity prompted an immediate statement from Jerusalem’s world centre for Holocaust research.

“Far too often, the international community expresses regret after the fact for not stopping such crimes as they occur. Today, it cannot be said that the world does not have the testimonies, the information and the understanding in real time that must bring about immediate action,” it said.

At a press conference to launch the report, Kirby said: “When you see that image in your mind of bodies being burned it does bring back memories of the end of world war two, and the horror and the shame and the shock.”

He added: “I never thought that in my lifetime it would be part of my duty to bring revelations of a similar kind.”