Human Rights Council debates situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic in Special Session

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29 April 2011

The Human Rights Council this morning convened a Special Session concerning the “situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic”. The session was convened after the Council received a request from the United States, backed by 15 other Member States and signed by 21 Observer States.

In opening remarks, Kyung-Wha Kang, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the recent events in Syria warranted the Council’s urgent attention. Information gathered since mid-March painted a disturbing picture: the widespread use of live fire against protestors; the arrest, detention and disappearance of demonstrators, human rights defenders, and journalists; the torture and ill-treatment of detainees; the sharp repression of press freedoms and other means of communication; and attacks against medical personnel, facilities and patients. The preponderance of information that had emerged from Syria depicted a widespread, persistent and gross disregard for human rights by the Syrian military and security forces. Syrian and international human rights organizations documented more than 450 killings and around four times that number of injuries.

Ms. Kang went on to say that the lessons from the recent events across the Middle East and North Africa clearly demonstrated that violent repression of peaceful protest did not resolve the grievances of people; on the contrary, it risked the creation of a downward spiral of anger, violence, killing and chaos. Syria was a State party to nearly all of the core international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Syria should ensure that the rights of life, liberty and security of persons were protected in all circumstances, including in the context of efforts to maintain law and order. Syria also had a responsibility to protect its population from crimes against humanity and other international crimes.