News / Middle East

UN Rights Chief: Both Sides Responsible for Serious Abuses in Syria

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay answers reporter's questions during a recess of Security Council consultations at the UN headquarters in New York, July 2, 2012.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay answers reporter's questions during a recess of Security Council consultations at the UN headquarters in New York, July 2, 2012.
Margaret Besheer
UNITED NATIONS — As international efforts to shift the direction in Syria from armed conflict to political transition continue with little progress so far, the United Nations's top human rights official warned Monday that the crisis risks escalating and that both sides are responsible for serious abuses.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told reporters that the provision of arms to Syrian government forces and the armed opposition is fueling violence, and that any further militarization of the conflict must be avoided.

Pillay put the blame on both sides and said the government had committed numerous violations.

“Indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas, targeted killings of activists and opposition supporters, arbitrary detentions, torture and rape as well as attacks on hospitals and clinics, and using health facilities for military operations,” she said.

Pillay also detailed violations by the opposition. “The violations on part of opposition forces include killings of suspected government informers and perceived collaborators; the increasing use of improvised explosive devices causing civilian deaths and injuries.  And we have credible reports that indicate that armed groups have also taken over at least one medical facility for military purposes,” she said.

Pillay said she repeated her call to the Security Council urging the U.N.’s most powerful body to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

“I believe that the evidence points to the commission of crimes against humanity," she said.  "The government of Syria attributes these violations to terrorists.  The government should grant independent investigators access to the country to verify this information.  I stand ready to send my staff to investigate this allegation on the part of the government.”

As the U.N. Supervision Mission in Syria, or UNSMIS, enters a third week of suspension due to escalating violence on the ground and its future is in doubt, Navi Pillay urged the Security Council to strengthen and support the 300 unarmed observers, so they can monitor and report.

French Ambassador Gerard Araud said the council will be discussing the mission’s future as the July 20 deadline for renewing its mandate approaches.  He said one thing is clear, the monitors by themselves cannot stop the violence.  For that, he said, a political process is needed.

“So the question will be - but we will have to think about it - 'Are we going to withdraw all the mission or part of the mission?  Are we going to keep the observers in the region or are we going to keep them in Damascus?'  Of course, it will depend on what is going to happen in the coming days.  If by any chance there is a political process starting, of course, it will be different and the observers will be useful and even necessary.  If it’s not the case, I think we will have to look at the options from closing the mission to downgrading it,” said the ambassador.

But the possibility of a political transition starting soon remains doubtful, as Syrian opposition groups rejected the Geneva meeting’s roadmap for a political transition, saying vague language that leaves open the possibility of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad being part of an interim government is unacceptable.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Alex from: Greece
July 03, 2012 12:13 PM
wasn't the UN Human Rights Chief chaired by Syria not long ago...??? Israel President Netanyahoo was right... you can't make these things up... such a joke this UN is...

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 03, 2012 10:10 AM
The civilized world can stop arms sales to any country of the world if they choose to, but who is going to stop or tell Russia what to do when its ally is in trouble and bloodthirsty? Who is going to control what Tehran does with its terrorist network - such a person or group can lay claim to stopping terrorism the world over. For the lack of control in sale of arms to both Syria and its opposition group(s) is the inability of the world to put to check Iran's sale of arms to various terrorist groups all over the world, thus making it still difficult to actually determine how hard the oil embargo is going to bite its economy whose chief income is illegal sale of arms. The end is not in sight except someone finds way of curbing Iran, and even if the UN observer team will be in danger of losing their lives if sent back there in the present condition, as neither Moscow nor Tehran truly values human life.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 03, 2012 9:52 AM
The agenda of the Arab Spring is for a totalitarian government, an autocracy based on sharia. The Syrian opposition is toeing the same line which has only partially been achieved in Egypt (time will tell). Rejection of Assad in the arrangement is not a way to negotiate peace but to impose themselves on the people of Syria. They forget that Assad came from a constituency and has supporters, why must they seek his exclusion? Now Assad appears to dance along in order to pay Israel back in their own coin for lending their support to the opposition, this is chaotic. Both parties are playing a dangerous game of chance (Israel and Assad), but the middle line should be what comes after which may be for the UN to advice - maintain existing treaties. Assad is guilty, now he'll say he thought the people he's killing are Israelis. The opposition is destroying the country, they'll claim they thought Assad wanted to make peace with Israel. The entire crisis in the Middle East finds definition in what's happening in Syria

by: NVO from: usa
July 02, 2012 8:54 PM
The UN is an absolute SHAM! They are a bunch of Global Elites pushing for a ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT under THE NEW WORLD ORDER. DO NOT BE DECEIVED BY THEIR SECRET AGENDA. BEWARE OF PROJECT ESHELON!!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs