[JURIST] Human rights violations by Syrian government forces “far outweigh” those by armed rebel groups, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay [official profile] told the UN Security Council [official website] on Tuesday. Pillay briefed the Security Council on the human rights situations in Syria, Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan, Mali and Libya [JURIST news archives], and called again for the conflict in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website]. Pillay told the Security Council that although the UN commission of inquiry in Syria had consistently blamed both parties to the Syrian conflict for human rights violations, “you cannot compare the two.” Pillay told reporters that the actions of the government forces far outweigh violations perpetrated by rebels: “It’s the government that is mostly responsible for the violations and all these perpetrators should be identified and can if there’s a referral to the International Criminal Court. There has to be justice and accountability and the situation in Syria should not be allowed to slip through the cracks.” The council has been unable to refer Syria to the ICC due to Russia, who with support from China, has shielded Syria from council action during the three-year civil war. Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari [official profile] dismissed Pillay’s accusations against the Syrian government as false and lacking credibility, pointing out that neither Pillay nor UN investigators have visited Syria during the conflict. Ja’afari told reporters that Pillay “has become lunatic in her action and is behaving irresponsibly,” and accused Pillay [Reuters report] of using her position in favor of putting further pressure on the Syrian government.
The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has persisted for more than three years and has been marked by human rights violations. Earlier this month, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) released a report stating that the conflict in Syrian has caused the deaths of over 150,000 people [JURIST report]. Last month, a panel of UN human rights experts announced [JURIST report] a new investigative report [text, PDF] describing violence in Syria by both rebel and government forces in recent months. According to the UN report, the number of recorded casualties is now in excess of one hundred thousand. Earlier in March, the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic urged [JURIST report] the international community to respond to the recurring crimes against humanity perpetrated by both government and non-government entities. Also in March, the human rights group Amnesty International [advocacy website] accused [JURIST report] Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s forces of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity on Palestinian and Syrian civilians in Yarmouk, on the outskirts of Damascus. In February UN human rights experts reported that pro-Government and opposition forces are both responsible [JURIST report] for committing war crimes in Syria.