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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter 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.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid