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

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by a joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop billions of dollars from illegally being moved out of continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development 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.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid