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UN rights chief renews call to refer Syria to ICC

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile; JURIST news archive] renewed her call Monday to the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST backgrounder]. She stressed the need to address the serious human rights violations [UN News Centre report] committed by both sides in the ongoing conflict, specifically actions harming civilians. Reports indicate that Syrian forces have killed more than 10,000 people since the violence between the government of President Bashar al-Assad [BBC profile] and anti-government protestors began. Violations committed by both the government forces and the opposition include shelling of civilian areas, arbitrary detentions, tortures, rapes and attacks on hospitals and clinics. Pillay stressed that the overall goal is to end the violence that has occurred for the past 16 months, but any solution to the conflict must address the human rights grievances that have occurred.

This past Saturday, the UN-backed Action Group on Syria generated an agreement [JURIST report] designed to aid Syria in ending the violence with a plan [text, PDF] that outlines six steps the international community must take, in addition with steps Syria must take, for a successful transition. Last week, a UN commission said [JURIST report] both sides were responsible for the resulting deaths, but al-Assad denied [JURIST report] that the government was responsible. In April, the UN Security Council approved a resolution [JURIST report] to send 300 unarmed soldiers and other humanitarian aid to supervise the implementation of a peace plan. In March, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported on and linked to videos of Syrian forces rounding up civilians [JURIST report], including women and children, and forcing them to walk in front of soldiers and tanks during troop movements and attacks so that opposition fighters would not shoot at them.

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