Monday, June 4, 2012

UN Human Rights Council Calls for Investigation of Syria

The United Nations Human Rights Council has called for “a special inquiry” into the massacre in the Syrian village of Houla last weekend, which resulted in the killings of 108 people, including 49 children. After a Special Session in Geneva last Friday that focused on the deteriorating human rights situation in Syria and the killings in Houla, the Council adopted a resolution (by a vote of 41-3 with two abstentions) condemning the use of force against civilians. The resolution deplored the “outrageous killings” in Houla and emphasized the continued failure of the Syrian authorities to protect and promote the rights of all Syrians.   

The Council called for the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria to conduct a “transparent, independent and prompt investigation into violations of international law with a view to hold to account those responsible for widespread, systematic and gross human rights violations, including violations that may amount to crimes against humanity.”   The Council also asked the Commission of Inquiry to identify those responsible for the atrocities and to submit a report on the results of its investigation at its next session, which will be held from June 18 to July 6, 2012.   

The Commission of Inquiry was established at the Council’s second Special Session and it presented its first report on November 28, 2011, concluding that the substantial body of evidence it had gathered indicated that gross violations of human rights had been committed by Syrian military and security forces since the beginning of the protests in March 2011.    

In its update to the Council in May, the Commission of Inquiry said that the Syrian Government had not provided it with access to the country. It noted that gross human rights violations continue unabated, amid increasing militarization of the strife there, despite an earlier agreement to halt hostilities. It also said that most of the serious violations were committed by the Syrian army and security services as part of military or search operations in locations thought to host defectors or armed people, and those seen as supporters of anti-government armed groups. It also noted that it had received several reports stating that anti-government armed groups has also committed human rights abuses. 

(mew) (adapted from a UN Press Release)

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