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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid