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UN rights chief: international community must continue to prevent abuses

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] Navi Pillay [official profile] on Monday urged that the international community must continue to prevent human rights abuses [press release] and hold perpetrators accountable. Speaking at the opening of the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva [UN News Centre report], Pillay specifically mentioned the ongoing situations in Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Palestine, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Sudan and Syria. Pillay stated that although some situations have been referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website], the fact that the Syrian conflict is not being investigated by the ICC is a failure:

The ICC only has jurisdiction over member states of the Rome Statute [text] or if a situation is referred to it by the UN Security Council [official website]. Syria signed [text] the Rome Statute in November 2000 but has yet to ratify it. More than 70,000 people have been killed in Syria, according to Pillay, and she has repeatedly urged the Security Council to refer the situation to the ICC. Pillay called for the international community to strengthen its processes for addressing human rights violations and provide the necessary support to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The Syrian government has been in conflict with the opposition since 2011, and the international community has become increasingly concerned about the violence. Pillay urged [JURIST report] the Security Council to refer the Syrian situation earlier this month. Last month more than 50 countries asked the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria [JURIST report] to the ICC. A study carried out by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] reported in January that the average number of deaths per month has increased significantly [JURIST report] since the summer of 2011, where the average was approximately 1,000 per month, to an average of 5,000 deaths per month since July 2012. A UN official said in November that a video posted on the Internet of Syrian rebels executing government soldiers who had surrendered may be evidence of war crimes [JURIST report]. In October, Pillay called on the international community to work to bring an end to the Syrian conflict [JURIST report]. Her statement came after Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] reported earlier that month that the Syrian government was using cluster bombs [JURIST report] against opposition forces. In September UN investigators reported [JURIST report] that the number and frequency of human rights violations committed by both sides of the conflict were increasing rapidly.

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