[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Friday urged [statement] the UN Security Council [official website] to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] for investigation into crimes against humanity committed by the Syrian government. Pillay said that during the eight-month uprising [JURIST news archive] the death toll in Syria has surpassed 4,000 [JURIST report] with tens of thousands arrested and over 14,000 detained as a result of the crackdown. The Human Rights Council established an Independent International Commission of Inquiry to investigate the human rights violations in Syria during the eight-month uprising. Pillay stated:
The Commission’s report documents widespread, systematic and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by Syrian authorities by acts such as: killing of children by beating or shooting during demonstrations, arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment. It records at least 256 deaths of children—I understand since increased to 307 children—and instances of schools being used as detention facilities, demonstrating the State’s disregard for children’s right to education and personal safety. The Commission collected evidence of sexual violence against civilians, especially sexual torture of male detainees and children and sexual assaults upon women in places of detention.
Pillay expressed that if the actions of the Syrian government are not stopped now, the country faces the threat of a civil war.
The Syrian government has faced numerous allegations of human rights violations since March when the first anti-government protests started. On Wednesday the Syrian National Council [official website], a civilian opposition group, agreed to coordinate resistance efforts with the Free Syrian Army, the main military opposition group composed of Syrian military defectors. On Monday the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria reported that the Syrian Arab Republic has committed numerous human rights violations [JURIST report] including torture, sexual violence, use of excessive force and violations of the right to peaceful assembly. Last week, the UN General Assembly’s Human Rights Committee approved [JURIST report] a draft resolution [text, PDF] condemning the Syria’s human rights violations calling for an immediate end to them. Pillay previously called for an ICC probe [JURIST report] into the situation in Syria in August.