UN: Full conflict a danger to Syria, region

2012-06-01 16:16
Geneva - Syria and the entire region are in danger if a full-fledged conflict erupts in the country, UN rights chief Navi Pillay warned on Friday as she urged a probe into the Houla massacre.

In a statement to a specially-convened meeting of the Human Rights Council, Pillay also called on the international community to throw its weight behind the six-point peace plan brokered by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

"Otherwise, the situation in Syria might descend into a full-fledged conflict and the future of the country, as well as the region as a whole could be in grave danger," said the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Pillay, who is not in Geneva, reiterated a call for the UN Security Council to consider referring events in Syria to the International Criminal Court.

"We must make all efforts to end impunity, to ensure accountability for perpetrators, and to provide adequate and effective remedies for the victims," she said.

Pillay also voiced regret at the failure of Damascus to grant access to the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, the independent panel established last year by the rights council to investigate rights abuses.

12 civilians executed

The council was due on Friday to debate a call for the commission to probe the massacre of over 100 people in the Syrian town of Houla last week that triggered global horror and outrage.

Qatar, Turkey and the US have submitted a draft resolution which condemns the "outrageous" killing of 49 children in Houla and calls for a "comprehensive, independent and unfettered special inquiry".

Meanwhile, Syrian government forces summarily executed 12 civilians on their way home from work in a fertiliser factory in Qusayr, activists in the central town said by telephone on Friday.

The reported killings late on Thursday afternoon came on the eve of a special meeting of the UN Human Rights Council called to discuss the conflict.

"The workers were on a bus when they were forced to stop at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Qusayr," said Salim Kabbani of the Local Co-ordination Committees, which organise protests on the ground.

"Regime forces tied their hands behind their backs and shot them."

Non-stop shelling

He said abuses had become routine in Qusayr, a town southwest of the flashpoint central city of Homs. "The checkpoint where the workers were killed is dangerous, and people are often tortured there."

Several areas of rebel bastion Qusayr have been under non-stop shelling by government forces, Kabbani said. "We have a very high number of wounded, and we fear many of them will die because we don't have the medical materials we need to treat them."

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had asked the UN military observer mission in Syria to visit Qusayr to investigate the latest killings.

The Obseratory's head Rami Abdel Rahman said the persistent bloodshed made a mockery of the UN-backed ceasefire that was supposed to take effect from 12 April.

"The ceasefire has been dead for a month," he said.

"In Qusayr, the regime has shelled incessantly in recent days because it is trying to regain control of an area it has lost control of to rebels."

Read more on:    un  |  kofi annan  |  bashar al-assad  |  navi pillay  |  syria  |  human rights  |  syria conflict  |  uprisings
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