Syria has rejected calls from several nations for it to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), according to a report adopted Tuesday by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official websites]. The report also includes a number of recommendations to the country aimed at improving its human rights record which has been widely criticized since the country began to crackdown on anti-government protests early this year. In statements contained in the report, Syria asserts that the violence in the country is the result of "terrorist threats" prompted by "a media war" and "the hegemony of the West, the US and Israel." The government of President Bashar al-Assad [BBC profile] has continued to crack down on anti-government protests in the country, killing and estimated 3,000 civilians since mid-March.
Last month, the UNHRC voted 33-4 to adopt a resolution [JURIST report] ordering an investigation [press release] into crimes against humanity in Syria and urging the Syrian government once again to halt its violent crackdown against peaceful protesters. An emergency meeting was held in response to a plea [JURIST report] from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] to refer Syria to the ICC for an investigation into the violent suppression of anti-government protests. Many steps have been taken to try and halt the violence in Syria. In August, the Los Angeles Times reported that an unknown Western country is funding an investigation [JURIST report] into Syria's recent human rights abuses. In July, two UN rights officials expressed concern over reports of violence [JURIST report] used by Syrian authorities against the country's own people. In June, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official websites] published a preliminary report [JURIST report] describing human rights violations in Syria and calling for an investigation into government-authorized abuses related to pro-democracy protests that began earlier this year. In April, Pillay urged Syria to immediately halt the killings [JURIST report] and violence against civilian protesters in response to the fatal shootings of peaceful anti-government protesters.