US, Turkey, Qatar call for urgent UN rights debate on Syria

May 27, 2013 | By More

GENEVA (AP) — Syria’s Ambassador Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui said the request violates principles of impartiality because it comes from nations that support the rebels battling the government troops. U.N. Human Rights Council President Remigiusz Henczel says the council will decide Tuesday whether to hold the debate Wednesday.

human rights observers - us, turkey qatar call for urgent un rights debate on syria

The United States, Turkey and Qatar pressed the U.N.’s top human rights body Monday for an urgent debate on the civil war in Syria that could add to growing international pressure for holding accountable those responsible for killing thousands of civilians.

Diplomats exchanged sharp words moments after the opening of the 47-nation U.N. Human Rights Council’s latest three-week session, which immediately focused on the more than 70,000 killed and millions more displaced since the uprising against Syria’s President Bashar Assad began in March 2011 and evolved into civil war.

Turkey’s Ambassador Oguz Demiralp said the Assad regime is “attacking its own citizens with heavy weapons” in the town of Qusair, near Lebanon, which has been under attack by government forces and members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group since last week.

“This time, the Syrian regime is blatantly hand-in-hand with foreign culprits,” he said. “Those who cling to power in Syria seem to have lost sense of reality and humanity.” The U.N.’s top human rights official, Navi Pillay, said that both sides in Syria’s conflict are disregarding international law. “Civilians bear the brunt of this crisis in which human rights violations have reached horrific dimensions,” said Pillay, the U.N.’s high commissioner for human rights.

Pillay said she is concerned at reports suggesting hundreds of civilians have been killed or injured, and thousands remain trapped, by indiscriminate shelling and aerial attacks by government forces in Qusair.

She said that refugees streaming into neighboring countries are suggesting that “the Syrian government continues to use indiscriminate and disproportionate force in residential areas, and that the Syrian armed forces have directly targeted schools and hospitals.”

“Wanton human rights violations are also being committed by anti-government groups,” Pillay said. She also called on the Security Council, the U.N.’s most powerful arm, to refer the Syrian crisis for prosecution before the International Criminal Court, based in the Netherlands.

Though it cannot make such a referral itself, the Geneva-based Human Rights Council’s has what officials describe as an ever-growing body of evidence of appalling violations of basic human rights that should lead to mounting calls for action to end the civil war that is also threatening the region.

Next week, officials say, a U.N. panel investigating war crimes in Syria is due to deliver its latest report — including an update on the suspected use of chemical weapons — to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.

The U.N. General Assembly approved an Arab-backed resolution two weeks ago calling for a political transition in Syria. But many nations refused to vote “yes” to the non-legally binding, U.S.-backed resolution because of its support for the main opposition group. Key Syrian ally Russia urged a “no” vote, saying it would promote a one-sided resolution that could sink a new U.S.-Russia effort to end the escalating conflict.

The Assad regime has agreed in principle to participate in peace talks in Geneva next month. The United States and Russia hope to bring together the government and opposition for direct talks, but the exact date, agenda and list of participants for the conference remains unclear.

The new resolution demands that all parties work with U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to rapidly implement a roadmap for a Syrian political transition adopted on June 30, 2012, in Geneva by key nations including the five Security Council powers — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France.

Associated press journalist for human rights observers – Khizer Hayat reports from the Region.


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Category: Arab uprising

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