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 Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid