News / Middle East

UN: Human Rights Violations in Syria Escalating

Debris from damaged buildings after gunmen stormed the headquarters of Al-Ikhbariya news channel near Damascus, June 27, 2012, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.
Debris from damaged buildings after gunmen stormed the headquarters of Al-Ikhbariya news channel near Damascus, June 27, 2012, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.
Lisa Schlein
GENEVA - U.N. investigators say the situation in Syria "is dangerously and quickly deteriorating."  They say gross violations of human rights, including torture and summary executions, are escalating and being committed by both sides.  The investigators also presented their findings about a massacre in the Syrian town of Houla in May. 

More than 100 people were killed during the massacre in Houla, a village in the Syrian province of Homs.  The head of the U.N. investigating team, Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro, says it is not possible to determine with any certainty who carried out the killings.

He says the U.N. Commission of Inquiry does not rule out the possibility of anti-government fighters being responsible.  But, he adds, this is considered very unlikely.

“Inconsistencies in the available evidence hindered our ability to determine the identity of the perpetrators at this time.  Nevertheless, we consider that forces loyal to the government may have been very responsible for many of the deaths.  We will continue our investigation until the end of our mandate,” said Pinheiro. 

Syria has never allowed the United Nations to conduct investigations inside the country.  But this may now change.  Pinheiro confirms that for the first time, he was able to visit Syria over the weekend and talk with senior officials.  He says he believes this may pave the way for the U.N. Commission of Inquiry to begin working inside Syria.

The 20-page report submitted to the U.N. rights council describes gross violations of human rights committed by Syrian government forces and loyal militia.  It cites unlawful arrests and detention, torture and other forms of ill treatment.  It accuses them of sexual violence against men, women and children.

The U.N. investigators also presented evidence of killings, torture, and abductions of civilians committed by armed opposition groups. They say they have reports that anti-government armed groups are using children as medical porters, messengers and cooks, exposing them to risk of death and injury. 

Syrian Ambassador Faisal Khabbaz Hamoui accused the investigators of presenting information that comes from a biased media and which does not represent the truth.  He said the crisis in Syria is not a result of peaceful protests, but rather, it is a genuine war financed from abroad. 

Ambassador Hamoui said he rejects the defamatory statements and insults hurled at his country.

“For that reason, we will not participate in this politicized meeting, flagrantly politicized meeting whose only purpose is to attack Syria and its people,” he said. 

Then the Syrian ambassador stormed out of the room. 

The international envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, confirms that a ministerial meeting to discuss the Syrian conflict will take place in Geneva on Saturday.  He says invitations have been sent to foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the Security Council as well as to officials from other influential states.

Iran does not appear on the list, although Annan has stated his desire to have Tehran attend.  The United States opposes Iran’s participation in these high-level talks.

You May Like

Thousands of Ethiopian Israelis Rally Against Racism

PM Netanyahu says he will meet Damas Pakada, the Ethiopia-born Israeli soldier who was filmed being beaten by two policemen More

Ten Migrants Drown in Mediterranean, 4,800 Rescued

All of those rescued are being ferried to Italian ports, with some arriving on Italy's southernmost island, Lampedusa, and others taken to Sicily and Calabria More

HRW: Saudis Using US Cluster Bombs in Yemen

Human Rights Watch says photographs, video and other evidence have emerged indicating cluster munitions have been used in 'recent weeks' in airstrikes in Houthi stronghold in northern Yemen More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil Wari
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 03, 2015 1:12 AM
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video 'Woman in Gold' Uses Artwork as Symbol of Cultural Identity

Simon Curtis’ legal drama, "Woman in Gold," is based on the true story of an American Jewish refugee from Austria who fights to reclaim a famous Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis during World War II. It's a haunting film that speaks to the hearts of millions who have sought to reclaim their past, stripped from them 70 years ago. VOA's Penelope Poulou reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Taviani Brothers' 'Wondrous Boccaccio' Offers Tales of Love, Humor

The Italian duo of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have been making movies for half a century: "The Night of the Shooting Stars," "Padre Padrone," "Good Morning, Babylon." Now in their 80s, the brothers have turned to one of the treasures of Italian culture for their latest film. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Challenges Await Aid Organizations on the Ground in Nepal

A major earthquake rocked Nepal on Saturday and killed thousands, injured thousands more and sent countless Nepalese outside to live in makeshift tent villages. The challenges to Nepal are enormous, with some reconstruction estimates at around $5 billion. Aid workers from around the world face challenges getting into Nepal, which likely makes for a difficult recovery. Arash Arabasadi has the story from Washington.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs