News / Middle East

UN Rights Panel: Violations in Syria Growing

Brazilian diplomat Paulo Sergio Pinheiro delivers the report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria during to the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, September 17, 2012.
Brazilian diplomat Paulo Sergio Pinheiro delivers the report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria during to the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, September 17, 2012.
Lisa SchleinMark Snowiss
United Nations investigators say civilians are increasingly coming under attack by both Syrian government forces and rebels.
 
The Independent International Commission of Inquiry of Syria, which presented its findings to the U.N. Human Rights Council on Monday, finds violations of human rights in Syria have grown.
 
It says the frequency with which the alleged violations occur outstrips the commission's ability to investigate them.
 
Syria Death Map - updated September 17, 2012Syria Death Map - updated September 17, 2012
x
Syria Death Map - updated September 17, 2012
Syria Death Map - updated September 17, 2012
The chairman of the independent commission, Paulo Pinheiro, says civilians, many of them children, are bearing the brunt of spiraling violence. He says there has been an escalation of attacks on civilians and this reflects a disregard for rules of armed conflict from both government forces and rebels.
 
But the panel's report, completed last month, said while both government and anti-government forces committed war crimes, the abuses by opposition forces – while serious – did not reach the "gravity, frequency and scale" of those carried out by pro-government sides.
 
Government criticized
 
Pinheiro criticized the Syrian government's refusal to grant the commission access to the country, which continues, he says, to hamper investigations.
 
Despite this, he said the commission has found that government forces acting with the pro-government Shabiha militia were responsible for the killings of dozens of women and children during a massacre in May in Houla, a town north of the flashpoint city of Homs.
 
"The commission found reasonable grounds to believe that during this reporting period government forces and the Shabiha committed war crimes, gross human rights violations and international crimes," he said.
 
"Turning to violations by anti-government armed groups, there are reasonable grounds to believe that war crimes, including murder, extrajudicial execution and torture, were perpetrated by these groups," Pinheiro added.
 
The Syrian government representative in Geneva, Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui, dismissed the U.N. accusations as politically biased.
 
Hamoui blamed the United States and, what he called, its "tools" in the area for the continuation of the crisis.
 
"The continuation of funding and arming armed groups in addition to the misleading media information and trying to send more and more jihadists from Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya and other countries – all this will not help these parties at all," Hamoui said.
 
The ambassador said Syria takes seriously its obligation to save the lives of its people and to preserve their security. He says there can be no legal or moral cover for terrorism, which he blames on the rebels.
 
Fewer rebel abuses
 
But the U.N.'s Pinheiro said the crimes and abuses committed by rebels are less frequent and less intense than those committed by Syrian government forces and the Shabiha.
 
A spokesman for the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said he had read the report but could not comment.
 
In a separate report Monday, Human Rights Watch said Syrian rebels have committed war crimes, including torture and killing of detainees, Human Rights Watch called on nations supporting the rebels to press them to respect humanitarian law.
 
Human Rights Watch said opposition leaders have vowed to respect human rights and have taken measures to curb abuses. But the group said in a statement that it has concerns about comments by some opposition leaders saying they tolerate executions.
 
The U.N.'s Pinheiro, backing up Syrian government claims, said U.N. investigators have proof that rebels are being aided by Islamist militants - claims the rebels deny.
 
"The commission confirmed the increasing and alarming presence of foreign elements, including Jihadist militants in Syria," he said. "Some are joining anti-government forces while others are establishing their own groups and operate independently. Such elements tend to push anti-government fighters towards more radical positions."
 
Pinheiro said the commission has collected a body of evidence, which will be kept on file for possible future trials. He said U.N. investigators have drawn up a list of people believed to be responsible for war crimes.
 
Border raid
 
In a sign of the conflict's regional perils, Lebanese security officials said the Syrian Air Force raided an area near the Syrian-Lebanese border Monday, but there were no reports of casualties. 
 
  • Free Syrian Army fighters walk down stairs in a damaged building in Aleppo, Syria, Sept. 26, 2012.
  • Twin blasts targeting Syria's army command headquarters rocked the capital on Sept. 26, setting off hours of sporadic gunbattles and a raging fire inside the heavily guarded compound, state-run media and witnesses said.
  • The Syrian official news agency SANA photo shows the remains of a vehicle and other debris where they landed after a car exploded at Syria's army command headquarters in Damascus, Syria, Sept. 26, 2012.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter kisses the the head of his comrade, killed by a tank blast, in Aleppo, Syria, Sept. 26, 2012.
  • A Free Syrian Army soldier, right, looks through a mirror which helps him see Syrian troops from the other side, as he takes his position with his comrade during fighting, in Aleppo, Syria, Sept. 24, 2012.
  • In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian government forces patrol the damaged area of the al-Arqoub district in Aleppo, Syria, Sept. 24, 2012.
  • In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian government forces storm a building in the al-Arqoub district of Aleppo, Syria, Sept. 24, 2012.
  • A Free Syrian Army soldier, right, shows his comrade how to use an RPG at a Turkish bath or Turkish Hamam which the rebels took as a base and rest position, in Aleppo, Syria, Sept. 24, 2012.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter fires an anti-aircraft machine gun against a Syrian Army jet in the Saif Al Dula district in Aleppo, September 19, 2012.
  • Civilians and members of the Free Syrian Army try to pull out a body from under the rubble of a building destroyed by a jet air strike in al-Kalaseh, Aleppo, Syria, September 19, 2012.
Missiles from two Syrian warplanes, followed by helicopter fire, hit an area just inside Lebanese territory where opposition rebels had fled.
 
Also Monday, Lebanon's President Michel Suleiman asked Iran for an official explanation of remarks attributed to a senior Iranian commander that Tehran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard has military advisers in Lebanon and Syria.
 
Separately, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said he is "hopeful" about a meeting of a four-nation dialogue group on Syria later Monday in Cairo with his counterparts from Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. 
 
Inside Syria, activists reported that government troops shelled rebel-held areas around the country including the northern city of Aleppo and the Damascus neighborhood of Hajar Aswad.
 
The United Nations says more than 20,000 people have been killed in the conflict, 1.2 million are uprooted within Syria and more than 250,000 have fled abroad. 
  • Free Syrian Army fighters walk down stairs in a damaged building in Aleppo, Syria, Sept. 26, 2012.
  • Twin blasts targeting Syria's army command headquarters rocked the capital on Sept. 26, setting off hours of sporadic gunbattles and a raging fire inside the heavily guarded compound, state-run media and witnesses said.
  • The Syrian official news agency SANA photo shows the remains of a vehicle and other debris where they landed after a car exploded at Syria's army command headquarters in Damascus, Syria, Sept. 26, 2012.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter kisses the the head of his comrade, killed by a tank blast, in Aleppo, Syria, Sept. 26, 2012.
  • A Free Syrian Army soldier, right, looks through a mirror which helps him see Syrian troops from the other side, as he takes his position with his comrade during fighting, in Aleppo, Syria, Sept. 24, 2012.
  • In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian government forces patrol the damaged area of the al-Arqoub district in Aleppo, Syria, Sept. 24, 2012.
  • In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian government forces storm a building in the al-Arqoub district of Aleppo, Syria, Sept. 24, 2012.
  • A Free Syrian Army soldier, right, shows his comrade how to use an RPG at a Turkish bath or Turkish Hamam which the rebels took as a base and rest position, in Aleppo, Syria, Sept. 24, 2012.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter fires an anti-aircraft machine gun against a Syrian Army jet in the Saif Al Dula district in Aleppo, September 19, 2012.
  • Civilians and members of the Free Syrian Army try to pull out a body from under the rubble of a building destroyed by a jet air strike in al-Kalaseh, Aleppo, Syria, September 19, 2012.
Correspondent Mark Snowiss reported from Washington.

Mark Snowiss

Mark Snowiss is a Washington D.C.-based multimedia reporter.  He has written and edited for various media outlets including Pacifica and NPR affiliates in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @msnowiss and on Google Plus

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: LeRoy Padmore from: Jersey,City,NJ
September 19, 2012 5:56 AM
Those Muslim people are such a stupid people I have ever seen on on the earth.Israel does not have to kill them,they will finish the Job for Israel.those people don't have the heart of a human.these are animals.if they can kill somebody over a cartoon or burned the infrastructural the beauty of a city.no,no,no I am convince that these people are animals.Assad is too power greed,he doesn't care about anybody,but himself.and the UN sitting there watching the people dying because they are afraid of Iran.wow,this is deep,anyway it is Arab killing Arab.

by: Tomothy from: USA
September 17, 2012 6:33 PM
Oh but wait, I thought the rebels were the civilians? I guess I was right after all when I and many others said this is a staged uprising in Syria exactly like Libya. These "rebels" are American financed Al-Qaida used to create a fake revolution in Syria. People said we were conspiracy fools, but now its all been admitted.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs