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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More