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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
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 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.

AppleAndroid