The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website], in an emergency special session on Friday, publicly condemned [text, PDF] the violence used by Syrian authorities against peaceful protesters. Additionally, the council has immediately called for a full investigation of "all alleged violations of international human rights law" in Syria. The council's probe into Syrian violence is a direct endorsement of a US resolution [press release] calling for intervention in Syria to address more than 500 deaths since March. The resolution also calls for Syria to release arbitrarily detained prisoners, to allow humanitarian assistance to those in need and to evaluate its political process to allow for greater social justice and civil liberties. The resolution passed with a 26 to 9 member state vote. Seven member states did not vote, and five were absent from the session.
There has been a major struggle to put an end to Syrian violence since the protests began earlier this year. Last week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] called for Syria to immediately halt the killings [JURIST report] and violence against civilian protesters in response to the fatal shootings of peaceful anti-government protesters. Also last week, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [Al Jazeera profile] ended [JURIST report] the country's 48-year-old state of emergency, but protests have continued. Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [text] that Syrian security forces have stopped medical personnel [JURIST report], sometimes violently, from attending to injured protesters. A spokesperson for the group called the practice "both inhumane and illegal." Last month, Pillay urged the Syrian government [JURIST report] to ensure protesters' rights to peaceful expression and to work toward addressing their concerns instead of responding with violence. As demonstrations continued throughout the country in March, the government freed 260 political detainees [AFP report] in an overture to the protesters.