News / Middle East

UN Investigators Detail Syria Rights Violations

Lisa Schlein

A U.N. fact-finding mission on Syria says widespread and systematic human rights violations against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity.  The investigators recommend the U.N. Security Council refer Syria to the International Criminal Court for prosecution.

The mission's 22-page report presents a detailed and grim litany of human rights violations in Syria during the government's crackdown on dissent.  It presents evidence supporting what the investigators see as a pattern of widespread and systematic attacks against civilians.  

Spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, said these findings are extremely serious and could amount to crimes against humanity, which after genocide, constitute the most serious international human rights violations.

"The report lists…lots of things for example, summary executions," noted Colville.  "They mention a list of 353 named victims of summary executions.  There are lots of reports of snipers systematically shooting into civilian demonstrators, including children, many reports of torture.  The mission had a medical forensic physician on the team who examined victims of torture."  

The report also cites cases of people being pulled from their hospital beds and shot.  It describes people being killed in mosques.  It says Syrian forces used heavy weapons in civilian areas.  

The report covers the period from mid-March, when protests began against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, to mid-July.  The report says at least 1,900 people were killed during that period.  The Syrian government does not dispute this figure, but says at least 250 members of its security forces were among the victims.

The investigative team of 13 human rights experts collected its information over a three-month period. Syria did not allow the team to enter the country, so most of the information was acquired from witnesses in neighboring countries.

Nevertheless, U.N. spokesman Colville says the team was able to interview defectors from the Syrian armed forces, the security services and other government agencies, both inside Syria and in neighboring countries.

"They basically described how they were given orders to shoot to kill and also described how soldiers or other security agents who refused to shoot civilians were themselves shot," said Colville.  "So, that is very strong and interesting evidence and that is an important factor in the crimes against humanity because that involves a kind of command responsibility."  

The human rights experts say they have compiled a confidential list of 50 alleged perpetrators at various levels of the Syrian government who could face prosecution before the International Criminal Court.

Colville says the Syrian government disputes much of the report.  Syrian authorities reportedly told the U.N. experts they had instituted some political reforms and were investigating alleged abuses.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid