News / Middle East

UN Official Says Syria May Be Guilty Of War Crimes

Women take part in a demonstration against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, May 31, 2012.
Women take part in a demonstration against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, May 31, 2012.
Lisa Schlein
GENEVA - The United Nation’s top Human Rights Official, Navi Pillay, says the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad may be guilty of war crimes for the killing of innocent civilians.  In an opening speech to the 20th session of the UN Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner highlighted a number of global human rights crises that deserve international attention and protection.

Pillay said she was speaking out against what she called a backdrop of crises around the globe.  Chief among them is Syria.  She says the suffering of civilians is increasing significantly as the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate.
 
She says the escalating violence in the country forced UN observers to suspend their operations a few days ago, and this suspension comes while innocent civilians are being killed every day.  
 
She noted the UN observers are under constant threat.  Daily attacks against their convoy have prevented them from visiting towns and villages where fighting is raging to document grave human rights violations.
 
“All violations of the human rights of the Syrian people at the hands of all parties to the conflict must end," she said. "The Government of Syria should immediately cease the use of heavy armaments and shelling of populated areas, as such actions amount to crimes against humanity and possible war crimes.”
 
Pillay urged nations to overcome their differences and work to end the violence as well as human rights violations against the people of Syria.  She says all those guilty of crimes, including those who have attacked UN observers, must be brought to justice.
 
Switching to other troubled parts of the world, in Africa, the High Commissioner expressed deep concern about the situation in Mali.  She says security and human rights have significantly deteriorated in the whole Sahel region since the military coup.  She noted human rights abuses and the disruption of basic services in northern Mali have led to a massive displacement of people.
 
South Sudan was also highlighted because of the thousands of Sudanese refugees fleeing into the country to escape fighting and food shortages.  But, Pillay points out that persistent inter-communal violence is also threatening South Sudan’s ability to build up its institutions and create a rights-based society.
 
Elsewhere in the Horn of Africa, Pillay says the human rights situation in Eritrea is of deep concern.
 
“Credible sources indicate that violations of human rights include arbitrary detention, torture, summary executions, forced labor, forced conscriptions, and restrictions to freedoms of movement, expression, assembly and religion," said Pillay. "There are an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 political prisoners.”  
 
The High Commissioner says, so far, she has received no response from Eritrea to her proposal to send a mission to the country to assist the Government in improving its human rights situation.  
 
Elsewhere, Pillay urged North Korea's neighbors not to deport North Korean refugees to their country where their lives could be in danger.  She condemned an increase in violence against journalists in several countries in Latin America, particularly Mexico and Honduras.  
 
Pillay also expressed concerns over the continuing use of armed drones for targeted attacks in Pakistan.  She said it is unclear that all of those targeted are combatants or directly participating in hostilities.

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.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Marimba
June 18, 2012 2:17 PM
Please Navi Pillay and Lindiwe Zulu, dont loose sight of the current Zimbabwe situation and the forthcoming Elections. Many people lost their lives in the 2008 Elections through violence not forgetting the Gukurahundi tragedy and Murambatsvina - displacement of thousands of people,followed by the widespread farm seizures and deaths.

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