News / Middle East

UN Rights Chief Dismisses Syria's Assad Claims on Credibility

Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, speaks during a news conference in Mexico City, Mexico, July 2011. (file photo)
Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, speaks during a news conference in Mexico City, Mexico, July 2011. (file photo)
Margaret Besheer

United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay has dismissed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s recent claims that the U.N. is not a credible organization and that her commission of inquiry failed to contact his government during an investigation of human rights violations in his country.

Earlier this week, U.S. television network ABC aired an interview with President Assad in which he said he had not received documents or evidence to support recent findings by a U.N. commission of inquiry that crimes against humanity have been committed during the on-going crackdown on dissenters. He also questioned the United Nations’ credibility.



Pillay, who is in New York for U.N. observances of Human Rights Day on Saturday, told reporters that her office has been in contact with Assad’s ambassador in Geneva throughout the process. She added that neither the fact-finding commission her office set up in August nor the international team of investigators who wrote the recent report was allowed into Syria by Assad.

“I think it is very important he does [allow U.N. teams into Syria], though, especially if he is under the impression that the U.N. and the information it provides is not credible," said Pillay. "It is very important we go there, then, and check his side of the story.”

The international panel’s report found that members of the Syrian army and security forces have committed crimes against humanity in their repression of a largely civilian population in the context of a peaceful protest movement. The crimes detailed include murder, torture, rape and arbitrary detention.

The panel also found that more than 300 children were among the more than 4,000 people killed since the protests began in mid-March.

Assad has taken the position that his government is fighting armed terrorists and infiltrators who want to topple his regime, and that many of the dead are members of his own security forces who are protecting the population.

Pillay said she acknowledges Syrian forces have been killed, but repeated her warning that the country could be slipping into civil war.

“I acknowledge that almost 1,000 of President Assad’s security forces have also been killed in this conflict," she said. "And this is why I am alerting the world that as you have more and more defectors from the security forces, this may well develop into a fully-fledged civil war.”

There has been, by some accounts, heated discussion among Security Council diplomats as to whether the human rights chief should brief the 15-member council on the situation in Syria. Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, the council’s president during December, said after consultations, the council has invited Pillay to speak at a closed meeting on Monday.

Churkin said reports that Russia and China objected to such a briefing were “patently not true.” He added that Pillay also will be asked to brief the council on the current situation concerning Palestinian human rights.

Pillay said she would brief the council if invited. However, she expressed distress that the last time she met the members in August, the death toll stood at 2,000. Now it is more than 4,000. She said lives could have been changed if action had been taken sooner.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


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