Libya, Syria, I Coast to dominate UN rights council session

29th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Libya's civil war, Syria's bloody crackdown on protesters and post-election violence in Ivory Coast are set to dominate the 17th session of the UN's Human Rights Council opening Monday in Geneva.

Rights groups and other non-governmental bodies are demanding that the council take action and adopt strict resolutions in the wake of damning expert reports into recent events in the three countries.

The reports followed special sessions dedicated to Ivory Coast in December, Libya in February and Syria in April, at which the council's 47 member states demanded probes into alleged violations considered by some to amount to crimes against humanity.

The council's 17th meeting since its creation in 2006 is a chance to take stock.

"It is important that the next session of the council continues to act effectively ... particulary regarding Libya, Ivory Coast and Syria, with a focus on the fight against impunity," Jean-Baptiste Mattei, France's ambassador to the United Nations, told AFP.

The council will get a chance to show its resolve on June 6, when it considers a Libyan report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and one by its own commission created to probe alleged violations committed by strongman Moamer Kadhafi's regime against protestors.

Thousands of people have died in violent clashes pitting regime opponents against Kadhafi loyalists, and some 750,000 have fled their homes, according to data from the United Nations and the International Criminal Court, which has launched an investigation.

Yet an NGO representative who requested anonymity said it would be hard to get a new council resolution on Libya "due to the nervousness of Latin American countries who don't look positively on the international coalition's military intervention" in that country.

Some NGOs believe it will be easier to reach consensus on Ivory Coast.

The council will on June 15 consider a report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and one by independent experts on alleged violations committed in post-election violence in the west African country.

The United Nations has said more than 1,000 people were killed in western Ivory Coast during a five-month crisis that followed a disputed presidential election, as Laurent Gbagbo refused to relinquish power to Alassane Ouattara.

"The situation in Ivory Coast remains extremely fragile," said Julie Gromellon, spokeswoman for the International Federation for Human Rights. "The council has a responsibility to ensure that the government follows through on political commitments it made."

In December, the council adopted a resolution denouncing "atrocities" perpetrated in Ivory Coast, citing kidnappings and summary executions.

On June 15, it will consider a preliminary report into alleged atrocities committed in a clampdown on protests in Syria.

Rights groups say more than 1,000 people have been killed and 10,000 arrested in anti-regime protests sweeping the country since mid-March.

Other sensitive issues to be addressed at the meeting, which wraps up on June 17, will include a follow-up report on the killing of nine Turkish activists when Israeli marines stormed a Gaza-bound aid flotilla a year ago.

The council is set to name a special rapporteur on human rights in Iran -- the first such appointment since 2002.

© 2011 AFP

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