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UN rights council condemns Syria violence

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] voted on Friday in favor of a resolution [text] condemning the violence in Syria and extending the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry. The 47-member panel voted 41-3 [press release] for the resolution with two abstentions. The resolution deplores the escalation of violence that has resulted in an ongoing human rights crisis and may rise to the level of crimes against humanity. The UNHCR condemned:

The sharply escalating widespread, systematic and gross violations of human human rights and fundamental freedoms perpetrated by the Syrian authorities, such as arbitrary executions, excessive use of force and the killing and persecution of protesters, refugees, human rights defenders and journalists, including recent deaths of Syrian and foreign journalists, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment, including of adolescents and children; ... The attacks against civilians in cities and villages across the country ... by units of the Syrian armed forces and diverse security forces; ... The extensive violations of children's rights committed by the Syrian authorities, including the killing of children during demonstrations and the widespread practice of arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment; [t]he sexual violence committed by the Syrian authorities, including against male detainees and children; [and] The deliberate destruction of hospitals and clinics, the obstruction and denial of medical assistance to the injured and sick, and the raids and killing of wounded protesters in both public and private hospitals.
The UN-sanctioned resolution urges Syrian authorities to put an immediate end to the violence and all human rights violations. It further recommends that the main bodies of the UN take appropriate action to address human rights violations, as well as crimes against humanity that may have been committed. The resolution also states that the widespread and systematic use of violence violates international criminal law and necessitates that offenders must be brought to justice.

The UN has continued to call for an end to the violence in Syria. Earlier this month, the UNHRC voted to pass [JURIST report] a non-binding resolution condemning Syrian authorities for continued bloodshed and violations of human rights. This official condemnation from the rights body came on the heels of a demand for a cease-fire [JURIST report] by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] in late February. Also in February, the UN-appointed Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria accused the government of violating international human rights law [JURIST report] after finding that Syrian forces are engaging in torture and killings under orders from high level government officials. In the same month, both Pillay and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] called for an end to the violence in Syria, with Pillay asking the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria [JURIST reports] to the International Criminal Court. Pillay urged an investigation of Syrian government and military officials for possible crimes against humanity. The OHCHR reports that more than 5,000 people have died since anti-government protests began last March. The increasing unrest in Syria has garnered international attention and has sparked controversy in America about what its role should be [JURIST op-ed].

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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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