UN Human Rights Council denounces Syria crackdown

[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] voted Thursday to pass a non-binding resolution [text, PDF] condemning Syrian authorities for continued bloodshed and violations of human rights. The resolution calls for the Syrian government to immediately end attacks on civilians [press release]. The measure was affirmed with 37 nations voting for the proposal while three voted against and three other nations abstained. The UNHRC urged the Syrian government to:

"Immediately put an end to all human rights violations and attacks against civilians, to cease all violence, to allow free and unimpeded access by the United Nations and humanitarian agencies to carry out a full assessment of needs in Homs and other areas, and to permit humanitarian agencies to deliver vital relief goods and services to all civilians affected by the violence."
The resolution comes as Syrian forces under President Bashar al-Assad [Al Jazeera profile] continue an eleven month long siege on its own citizens which has escalated of late. The number of casualties has spiked as government forces have closed in on Baba Amr [BBC report] which has been the principle stronghold of the Syrian rebel force.

The official condemnation from the rights body comes on the heels of a demand for a cease-fire [JURIST report] by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] earlier this week. Syrian officials announced Monday that over 80 percent of voters in the country approved the new constitution [JURIST report], which imposes term limits on the president and provides for a multi-party system. However, Western leaders called the referendum a "farce" and condemned [Independent report] the "sham vote" as incapable of resolving the ongoing violence. Last month, the UN-appointed Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria accused the government of violating international human rights law [JURIST report] after finding that Syrian forces are engaging in torture and killings under orders from high level government officials. Also in February, both Pillay and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] called for an end to the violence in Syria, with Pillay asking the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria [JURIST reports] to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Pillay urged an investigation of Syrian government and military officials for possible crimes against humanity. The OHCHR reports that more than 5,000 people have died since anti-government protests began last March. The increasing unrest in Syria has garnered international attention and has sparked controversy in America about what its role should be [JURIST op-ed].

 

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