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

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down nearly three percent, while US market indexes were off around two percent in early trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs