Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Human Rights Council Resolution on Syria

Yesterday, the Human Rights Council voted  to establish a commission of inquiry into human rights violations in Syria. Here is the press release issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights:

The Human Rights Council concluded its seventeenth Special Session, which was convened yesterday and was devoted to “the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic”. The Council adopted a resolution that requires an independent international commission of inquiry to be dispatched to the country to investigate all allegations of violations of international human rights law committed by the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011, to establish the facts and circumstances of these crimes and violations, and if possible to identify those responsible and ensure that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions.In the resolution, the Council expressed deep concern at the findings of the fact-finding mission established by the Office of the High Commissioner pursuant to resolution S-16/1, adopted in April after the last Special Session on Syria. These findings included violations of human rights that could constitute crimes against humanity. The Council strongly condemned the serious, systematic and continuing human rights violations by Syrian authorities, including arbitrary executions, excessive use of force and deadly violence against protesters and human rights defenders, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, and torture and ill-treatment of detainees, including children.At the opening of the Special Session yesterday afternoon, Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, presented the report of the fact-finding mission established by the High Commissioner at the request of the Council to investigate allegations of violations of human rights in Syria, including systematic and widespread human rights violations by military and security forces. The Office of the High Commissioner believed that these actions, by their nature and scope, could constitute crimes against humanity. Juan Mendez, the Special Rapporteur on torture, in a video message delivered on behalf of all Special Procedures mandate holders, said that they feared the threshold of widespread and systematic violence had been reached.Speaking as a concerned country, Syria said that the government had responded accurately to information requests from the High Commissioner and expressed regret that these responses were not included in the report, which lacked credibility. The delegation said that nonetheless, Syria would allow the mission from the Office of the High Commissioner to visit the country as soon as the Syrian independent commission had completed its own investigation.
The vote was 33 in favour, with four against (China, Russia, Ecuador and Cuba), and nine abstentions. Arab member states in the Council voted in favour of the resolution (Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia). For the speeches in the Council, click here.

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