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

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora