UN panel: Syria government, opposition both violating human rights

UN panel: Syria government, opposition both violating human rights

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[JURIST] Both the Syrian government and anti-government groups are killing opponents, torturing children as young as 10 years old and committing other human rights abuses, a UN-appointed group of human rights experts reported [text, PDF] Thursday. The report, issued by the three-member Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, declared that Syrian security forces are predominantly responsible for the violence:

Despite the human rights imperative to employ lethal force only as a last resort to protect life, state security forces continued to use lethal force against anti-government demonstrations in Idlib, Homs, Aleppo, Hama, Damascus and Dar’a and in numerous villages throughout the country. The Commission recognizes that many such protests were accompanied by armed groups, who have described their role as providing protection for the demonstrators. The resulting clashes were deadly for demonstrators, members of these armed groups and security forces alike, yet too-often civilians bore the brunt of the violence.

While the report primarily blamed Syrian authorities for the violence, it also criticized armed anti-government groups for unlawfully killing members of the Syrian military as well as suspected informers.

The international community has continued to call for end to the violence in Syria. In April, the UN Security Council [official website] approved a resolution [JURIST report] to send 300 unarmed soldiers and civilian aid to Syria to implement a peace plan. Earlier in April, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] released a report claiming the Syrian government has executed more than 100 civilians [JURIST report] and opposition fighters during recent attacks. Also in April UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official profile] reaffirmed his call for an end to the violence and condemned attacks [JURIST report] by pro-government troops against civilians. In March the UN Human Rights Council [official website] passed a non-binding resolution [JURIST report] condemning Syrian authorities for ongoing bloodshed and violations of human rights. This official condemnation from the rights body came after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] demanded a cease-fire [JURIST report] in late February.