UN rights chief concerned over ‘monstrous disregard for civilian lives’ in Syria

UN rights chief concerned over ‘monstrous disregard for civilian lives’ in Syria

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [office website] on Friday urged [press release] all parties to disengage from all-out war in Syria, expressing deep concern over a “monstrous disregard for civilian lives.” Reports of civilian deaths and injures stemming from bombings of marketplaces and medical facilities have been increasing, and Zeid said such attacks may amount to war crimes. Zeid stated that the violence is soaring back to the levels seen prior to the cessation of hostilities and many citizens remaining in this area are in grave danger. He said, “Urgent action is needed by all relevant actors to ensure the protection of civilians and their right to life, and to fight the impunity that has done so much to encourage the multitude of horrendous breaches of international humanitarian law and international human rights law that have taken place in Syria over the past five years.”

The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups first began protesting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and the increasingly bloody nature of the conflict has put pressure on the international community to intervene. In February the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reported [JURIST report] that the Syrian government is systematically exterminating detainees. In November Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] released a report stating that the practice of caging captured soldiers and civilians constitutes hostage-taking [JURIST report] and an outrage against their personal dignity. In October France opened a torture investigation [JURIST report] into the actions of the Syrian government under Assad in detention facilities. Additionally, Amnesty International [advocacy website] released a report [JURIST report] in October detailing the possibility of war crimes in Syria. The AI report criticized the Syrian government by stating that “they have maintained unlawful sieges, restricted humanitarian assistance deliveries, deliberately attacked civilians, and carried out indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, arbitrary detentions, abductions and enforced disappearances.”