Action on Syria urgent - UN rights chief

2012-02-08 15:33

Geneva - The United Nations' top human rights official called on Wednesday for urgent international action to protect civilians in Syria, saying she was appalled by the Syrian government's military onslaught on the city of Homs.

Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights, also implicitly criticised Russia and China for vetoing an Arab and Western move in the UN Security Council to get Syria's President Bashar Assad to quit.

"I am appalled by the Syrian government's wilful assault on the city of Homs, and its use of artillery and other heavy weaponry in what appear to be indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas in the city," Pillay said in a statement.

Anti-Assad activists in Syria say that, after an overnight artillery bombardment, government forces are thrusting into rebel-held areas of Homs with tanks as troops fired rockets and mortars, leaving many dead.

Pillay, a former South African high court judge said it was extremely urgent "for the international community to cut through the politics and take effective action to protect the civilian population".

She said "the virtual carte blanche" granted to Syria by the veto of the UN resolution "betrays the spirit and the word" of a 2005 global accord on collective action to protect civilians when their government was failing to do so.

Peaceful solution

Her statement came as both Russia and China continued to defend their stance.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it was "not really the international community's business" to try to determine the outcome of a national dialogue between government and opposition in Syria.

China said its veto was based on the UN Charter and principles and a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said that Beijing would make "unremitting efforts for the peaceful resolution of the Syrian crisis".

Pillay said over the past 11 months of a "brutal government crackdown on largely peaceful protests in Syria", thousands of people had been killed, detained, tortured and abducted.

Officials in her Geneva office say the deaths are now so widespread around the country that they can no longer issue reliable estimates. Last December she put the figure at more than 5 000.

"All evidence points to the involvement of the Syrian army and security forces in the perpetration of most of these crimes," said Pillay, who is also a former judge in the International Criminal Court.

"In the light of their nature and scale, they may constitute crimes against humanity, punishable under international law.

"Those in command should remember that there is no statute of limitations for serious international crimes and that there will be a sustained effort, for as long as it takes, to bring justice to all those who have been victims of the gross and systematic crimes taking place in Syria today."

  • Fidel - 2012-02-08 16:07

    Is this the same human rights official who canned a positive human right report on Libya before that country was bombed by the North Atlantic Terrorist Organisation. The Arab League monitors who were deployed in Syria, reported that it is not just the Syrian government that has been responsible for human rights attrocities but the 'armed groups' as well who number thousands. This report was commissioned by the Saudis and Qataris who subsequently tried to cann it once the findings became clear.

      clivecorbz - 2012-02-08 16:21

      "The Arab League monitors who were deployed in Syria, reported that it is not just the Syrian government" Ok... So the UN shouldn't step in because there are two groups causing havoc? That's a terrible reason... Please understand the UN's frustration with the issue, the world can't afford another Rwanda-like situation of failing to act because of countries in the security council who have the stupidly powerful option of veto, and who want to maintain their economic ties over the basic human right of security.

      Fidel - 2012-02-08 16:38

      My point is to highlight the duplicity of the UNHC and the failure of the MSM to report what is actually happening in that country instead of cheering on one side. The is an unacceptable killing that is being perpetrated by both sides and the UNHC should be condemning both sides instead of being a mouth piece for western powers.

      Fred - 2012-02-08 16:45

      Fidel, you're a delusional idiot of the highest order.

      clivecorbz - 2012-02-08 16:47

      I agree. It seems like the world powers are going to have to squabble over who's doing what and who's behind it. Instead of securing a seize fire and implementing talks as soon as possible. Nato's not very good at seize fires though, so I also agree that they're not the right people for the job.

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-02-08 16:50

      So everyone is conspiring against Syrian President ? "its not just them" rubbish , its called cross-fire between govt forces and militia, its the armies job to protect the populace not shell them . That report is 'leaked' and about as legitimate as my crayon constitution(read the parts on monitor issues). The arab league made the recommendations to the security council and were rejected by Russia (China gets below market oil so they don't care , its good for them). Clive has a point in that its analogous to a domestic abuse dispute with your neighbour, whyen and how do you get involved ? or do you eventually let them beat them to death Rwanda /Siere Loene style?

      Hugh - 2012-02-08 16:59

      and your referance is "" ? Now theres a credible non biased source if Ive ever seen one.

      Fidel - 2012-02-08 17:16

      @Ninja The Syrian army is protecting that country'sovereignty against western sponsored armed insurgents. Benjamin Franklin killed his people too! @Hugh The source doesn't matter but what is covered in the source which is ignored by the MSM, why?

      Fred - 2012-02-08 17:25

      Clive, you don't really understand what's going on. World powers, except Russia and China who are new to the international arena and have the worst human rights records of any country, are very clear about what's going on and what needs to be done. Unfortunately the Russian and Chinese regimes, distinct from the RUssian and Chinese people, have veto rights in the UN Security Council and therefore can impose their heartless point of view on the rest of world. As to cease-fires, it's been eleven months that the violent technocrat Bashar Assad has been promising this, with countless engagements by the rest of the world. Again and again he has demonstrated his true intentions: to hold onto power at any cost, meaning the lives of civilians by the thousands, rapidly reaching the tens of thousands. You can't sit on the sideline the way you are and not be decisive about right and wrong in this situation. It's so obvious and clear. Bashar Assad must be stopped. The only way to stop a bully is to look him in the eye and say no more, or else.

      Fred - 2012-02-08 17:29

      Fidel, you're spewing the same utter nonsense that you spewed about Libya. You're a weakling who believes wholeheartedly in his one victimhood. Thankfully the Arab World is standing up against violent tyrants, bringing an end to decades of oppressive rule. That you think dictatorships are nice and worthy of support really says it all.

      Fidel - 2012-02-08 18:47

      Russia, new to the intl arena,really. The US saved the royalty in Bahrain, and the fifth fleet.

      customdesign - 2012-02-08 19:15

      Ok I read the report- please refer to VII. Obstacles encountered by the Mission in the report- then tell me how after that anyone could get an accurate view? Other than that I read the whole article and cannot find where you get your claim from? Could you show me please?

      Fred - 2012-02-08 21:16

      Yes, really. They joined only a couple of decades ago. They're new to international relations, having alienated and weakened themselves with Communism.

  • Adam - 2012-02-08 22:01

    how sad and pathetic there are people in this world who back the syrian government. really really pathetic. i hope u get what you deserve.

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