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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid