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Syria commiting crimes against humanity: UN

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic said Thursday that killings in Syria [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] likely amount to crimes against humanity [official statement]. Simonvic addressed the General Assembly on behalf of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] to urge the international community to convince both the Syrian government and the armed forces to cease their violence and ongoing human rights violations. Instead, the six-point plan [proposal, PDF], laid out by Kofi Annan [official profile], Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the League of Arab States, should be implemented to ensure a peaceful solution to the current problem. Simonovic reported that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) received reports of large-scale killings in Qubair which still have to be verified. However, these investigations are made difficult due to Syria's constant denial of access. The Assistant Secretary-General also addressed the issue of human rights violations against detainees who have been subject to continuing torture, cruel and inhumane treatment as well as sexual violence. He urged the country's government to release all persons arbitrarily detained and to immediately allow access to all detention facilities.

Syria has been attacked for its human rights violations especially in the wake of last month's Houla incident that killed more than 100 people, including women and children. Earlier this month, the UN Human Rights Council [official website], after its announcement for a special session to discuss the situation in Syria, approved [JURIST reports] in a 41-3 vote a resolution blaming "pro-regime elements" and government troops for the massacre in Houla. On the same day, the Syrian government released [JURIST report] more than 500 prisoners detained during pro-democracy demonstrations. The release of "arbitrarily detained persons" was a key point in the six-point plan which was supposed to begin on April 12 but has not yet been successfully executed despite a resolution approved [JURIST report] by the UN Security Council [official website] to send 300 unarmed soldiers and other civilian aid for 90 days to supervise the implementation of the plan. In May, a three-member Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria released a report claiming that the Syrian security forces are predominantly responsible for the violence in the country.

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