News / Middle East

UN Commission: Syrian Forces Committed 'Crimes Against Humanity'

In this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA, supporters of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad attend a rally at al-Sabaa Bahrat square in Damascus, Syria, November 28, 2011.
In this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA, supporters of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad attend a rally at al-Sabaa Bahrat square in Damascus, Syria, November 28, 2011.
Margaret Besheer

A United Nations commission investigating allegations of human rights violations in Syria says Syrian forces committed crimes against humanity during the government's ongoing crackdown on dissent. The commission called Monday for the government to put an immediate end to the violence, investigate rights violations and bring the perpetrators to justice.

The U.N. Human Rights Council established the fact-finding commission in August. The three-member panel, headed by Paulo Pinheiro, a Brazilian human rights expert, presented its first report Monday at a news conference in Geneva.

Pinheiro said the panel and its team of investigators gathered first-hand information from at least 223 victims and witnesses from the end of September through mid-November. He would not go into detail about how they gathered that information but said it amounted to a “solid body of evidence.”

He said the panel concluded that the army and security forces committed serious crimes under international law.

“The commission has concluded based on its findings that members of the Syrian army and security force have committed crimes against humanity in their repression of a largely civilian population in the context of a peaceful protest movement," said Pinheiro. "These crimes include murder, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence of comparable gravity, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of liberty, which occurred in different locations including, but not limited, to Damascus, Daraa, Duma, Hama, Homs, Idlib, and along the borders with Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.”

He said the commission also concluded that these human rights violations could not have happened without the consent of the highest ranking state officials. He said under international law, the state is responsible for these violations and bears the duty to punish the perpetrators and compensate the victims.

Among its recommendations, the panel calls on Syrian authorities to put an immediate end to the violations of human rights; release those arbitrarily detained and provide access to international monitoring bodies and the International Committee of the Red Cross. It also recommends that the U.N. panel of inquiry be allowed into Syria.

Among the report's other findings: more than 250 children have been killed by state forces; men and boys reported being victims of rape and sexual torture; schools have been used as detention facilities and sniper posts; and the sick and injured were denied medical assistance.

Pinhero said his commission received no cooperation from the Syrian government, which has not publicly commented on the findings. He called on the authorities to cooperate with the panel as it prepares a second report due in March. He said full access would also allow the commission to investigate Syrian claims that protestors have also participated in violent acts.

The panel’s report will go to the Human Rights Council and the U.N. General Assembly. It will be up to those bodies to decide what to do next.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid