[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] on Tuesday voted 33-4 to adopt a resolution [draft text, PDF] ordering an investigation [press release] into crimes against humanity in Syria and urging the Syrian government once again to halt its violent crackdown against peaceful protesters. The UNHRC began a special session on Monday to discuss the possibility of an investigation [press release] after the Fact-finding Mission in Syria published a 22-page report last week concluding that Syrian government forces cracking down on the opposition may be committing crimes against humanity [JURIST report]. During Monday’s special session, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile], who noted that more than 2,000 people had been killed since the protests including hundreds during the month of Ramadan, also urged the Syrian government to stop its indiscriminate attacks on peaceful protesters and to release all persons detained for participating in those protests. The resolution will require the Syrian government to fully comply with a commission that will investigate alleged crimes against humanity that have taken place since March, with the commission reporting back no later than November.
The emergency meeting was held in response to a plea [JURIST report] from Pillay last week to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] for an investigation into the violent suppression of anti-government protests. Many steps have been taken to try and halt the violence in Syria this year. Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that an unknown Western country is funding an investigation [JURIST report] into Syria’s recent human rights abuses. In July, two UN rights officials expressed concern over reports of violence [JURIST report] used by Syrian authorities against the country’s own people. Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide Francis Deng and Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect Edward Luck said that reports of Syrian forces killing or arbitrarily arresting peaceful protesters indicate potentially grievous violations of international human rights laws, and urged officials to adhere to the government’s 2005 pledge to protect its citizens. In June, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official websites] published a preliminary report [JURIST report] describing human rights violations in Syria and calling for an investigation into government-authorized abuses related to pro-democracy protests that began earlier this year. In April, Pillay 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. The Fact-finding Mission was established [JURIST report] by the UNHRC in April, but was not permitted to enter the country.