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Syria rights situation worsening: UN expert

Paulo Pinheiro, chairperson of the UN-appointed Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, on Monday told [press release] the UN Human Right Council [official website] in Geneva that the number of people suffering from the intensified violence in Syria is increasing. During the interactive dialogue in Geneva, an updated version of the report [text, PDF] of the International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic was provided. According to the report, more than 500 children have been killed since March 2011. It alleged that snipers and other State forces were responsible for killing or wounding children including those were 10 years of age or younger. Pinheiro criticized the Syrian government in limiting access to humanitarian organizations and called for an "unimpeded humanitarian access" which would allow investigation to the situation in Syria. Until then, these organizations can only rely on documents and other sources the government provides which are not enough and cannot replace first-hand investigations. Pinheiro also pointed out that force used by the government against armed forces did not resolve the problem but rather heightened the level of violence and often affected civilians through collective punishment. Syria, on the other hand, rejected the validity of the report alleging that it was biased and contained baseless accusations. It also noted that the increased violence was due to external parties that armed different groups in Syria and encouraged them to go against each other. On Tuesday Arab League [official website, in Arabic] Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi [official profile] called for an international inquiry into the situation in Syria after Syrian human rights groups reported that numerous civilians were killed in the towns of Homs and Idlib in western Syria.

Syria has been subject to frequent criticism for human rights violations in the past few months. In February the UN accused [JURIST report] Syria of human rights violations after the commission of inquiry found that Syrian forces were engaging in torture and killing. A week before the report, the UN General Assembly [official website] condemned [JURIST report] Syria through a non-binding resolution [press release] that was proposed by the Arab League to end the national violence after the UN Secretary General [official profile] urged [JURIST report] Syria to stop the alleged crimes against humanity and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [official profile] recommended [JURIST report] the situation in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website].

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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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