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UN rights chief expresses concern about Syria rights violations

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Monday expressed concern about the human rights situation in Syria during her opening address [text; press release] to the Human Rights Council. Pillay said that the deteriorating situation in Syria has impeded UN officials from doing their jobs and has led to civilian deaths. She called on the government to end its practices of using dangerous weapons in civilian areas. She said the government's current practices amount to human rights violations:

All violations of the human rights of the Syrian people at the hands of all parties to the conflict must end. The Government of Syria should immediately cease the use of heavy armaments and shelling of populated areas, as such actions amount to crimes against humanity and possible war crimes. I also urge the international community to overcome divisions and work to end the violence and human rights violations to which the people of Syria have been subjected. We must also make our utmost possible efforts to ensure accountability for all perpetrators, including those who have attacked UN observers in Syria.
Pillay said UN officials in Syria had been attacked while attempting to travel through Syria to investigate war crimes. In her address, Pillay also called on the international community to work to find solutions and end ongoing human rights issues all over the world, including racial discrimination, poverty and discrimination against women.

The UN Special Rapporteurs on summary executions and torture on Friday condemned [JURIST report] the violence against peaceful protesters, journalists and human rights defenders in Syria. Despite the government's promise of reform to end the prevalent violence in the country, the experts discovered that corruption, injustice and discrimination are still placing civilians at risk. Also on Friday, Human Rights Watch reported that Syrian forces are sexually abusing [JURIST report] men, women and children who have been detained during the ongoing conflict. Syria has been unsuccessful in dealing with the unrest plaguing the country and has drawn international criticism. On Thursday, an Amnesty International report revealed that Syrian armed forces are continuing to engage in a pattern of abuse and deliberate killing of civilians [JURIST report]. Earlier this month, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic had voiced his concern [JURIST report] that the violence in Syria amounts to crimes against humanity. He addressed the General Assembly on behalf of Pillay to urge the international community to convince both the Syrian government and the armed forces to cease their violence and ongoing human rights violations.

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