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UN rights office: Syria death toll exceeds 3,500

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] announced Tuesday that the death toll of Syrian protesters has exceeded 3,500 [press release] despite last week's signing of a peace plan sponsored by the League of Arab States [official website, in Arabic]. In the past week alone, approximately 60 people have been killed by military and security personnel, included 19 people who were killed on Sunday during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. Spokesperson for the OHCHR, Ravina Samdasani, said, "we are deeply concerned about the situation and by the Government's failure to take heed of international and regional calls for an end to the bloodshed." Despite the Syrian government's announcement Saturday that 553 prisoners would be released, tens of thousands of prisoners remain in detention as dozens of protesters continue to be arrested each day.

Last week, Syria announced that insurgents who have revolted against the government of president Bashar al-Assad [Al Jazeera profile] may qualify for amnesty [JURIST report] if they turn themselves into authorities by November 12. This plea followed what have been some of the deadliest clashes of a movement that began in Syria last March [JURIST report], and left at least 13 people dead over the past few days. In October, the UN and the League of Arab States released statements condemning violence in Syria after an estimated 40 people were killed in protest-related encounters. Earlier in October, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] urged the international community to take steps to protect civilian lives in Syria [JURIST report]. In August, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported that 88 Syrians were killed [JURIST report] while in custody as a result of their protest, and the OHCHR reported on several occasions that Syrian forces may be committing crimes against humanity [JURIST report].

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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