UN rights chief urges Syria to stop violence against its people

UN rights chief urges Syria to stop violence against its people

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[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] Thursday condemned reported violence by Syria against its own people, calling on it to allow UN investigators into the country [press release]. Pillay said that reports show the number killed since protests began last March has exceeded 1,100 with up to 10,000 in detention, noting that at least 50 people were killed in a protest last Friday. In April, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] authorized an investigation [JURIST report] into reports of violence against protesters, but Pillay said that Syria has not responded to official requests to allow UN fact-finders into the country. Pillay urged Syria to stop using the military against protesters:

We are receiving an increasing number of alarming reports pointing to the Syrian Government’s continuing efforts to ruthlessly crush civilian protests. It is utterly deplorable for any government to attempt to bludgeon its population into submission, using tanks, artillery and snipers. I urge the Government to halt this assault on its own people’s most fundamental human rights.

Despite a not being able to enter the country, the UN fact-finding commission is still expected to file its report on June 15.

This is not the first time Pillay has called on Syria to end violence. In April, she urged Syria to immediately halt the killings [JURIST report] and violence against civilian protesters in response to the fatal shootings of peaceful anti-government protesters. Syria has also been reluctant to allow UN relief efforts into the country. Last month, a UN rights official expressed concern [JURIST report] regarding humanitarian aid access to Syrian cities where armed forces have been trying to put down anti-government protests. Repeated entreaties to Syrian authorities for access were unsuccessful. Even a direct phone call from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [Al Jazeera profile] regarding the proposed assessment proved unavailing. In April, the UNHRC, in emergency special session, publicly condemned [text, PDF] the violence used by Syrian authorities against peaceful protesters. Additionally, the council immediately called for a full investigation of “all alleged violations of international human rights law” in Syria. Also in April, Assad ended the 48-year-old state of emergency [JURIST report], an event of significant historical note, but protests have continued.