UN ADVISERS WARN THAT CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY MAY
Jul 22 2011
The United Nations special
advisers on genocide prevention and the principle of responsibility to
protect today voiced alarm at persistent reports of widespread and
systematic human rights violations perpetrated by security forces in
Syria, saying that crimes against humanity may have been committed.
Francis Deng, the Special
Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide and
Edward Luck, the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, said
that Syrian security forces have reportedly continued to kill civilians
and make arbitrary arrests.
Serious violations of
international human rights law are reported to have systematically
occurred in the context of the attacks on civilians, they said in a
joint statement to the media.
“Based on available
information, the Special Advisers consider that the scale and gravity of
the violations indicate a serious possibility that crimes against
humanity may have been committed and continue to be committed in Syria,”
said Mr. Deng and Mr. Luck.
They called for an
“independent, thorough, and objective investigation” of the events in
Syria, where demonstrations by civilians calling for greater democracy
have been brutally suppressed.
The UN advisers echoed calls by
the Secretary-General to the Syrian Government to allow humanitarian
access to areas affected by the unrest and to facilitate the visit of
the UN Human Rights Council-mandated fact-finding mission to the
“Without these steps, it will
be very difficult to defuse existing tensions and to prevent the
escalation of violence,” they said. “All actors involved in the current
crisis in Syria are urged to refrain from the use of force, from acts of
violence, or from incitement to violence.”
Mr. Deng and Mr. Luck reminded
the Syrian Government of its responsibility to protect its population,
as all heads of State and government pledged to do in the outcome
document of the 2005 UN summit.
“They [heads of State] agreed
to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against
humanity, as well as their incitement.
“To that end, the Government
should work with civil society to encourage understanding and trust
between communities, while taking care not to act in a way that could
exacerbate possible differences,” the two advisers said.
As a first step, they urged the
Syrian Government to ensure that security forces and civilian personnel
under their command “comply fully and consistently” with international
human rights obligations when carrying out their duties.