Syrian repression condemned at Human Rights Council meeting
Members of the UN Human Rights Council lined up Friday to condemn the murder and torture of civilians by Syrian authorities after being told that 56 children were killed last month.
They urged more international action against Damascus at an emergency session of the inter-governmental body called after a UN-appointed special commission found widespread killings and abuse of dissidents since a crackdown began in March.
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms the ongoing slaughter, arbitrary arrest and torture of peaceful protesters," US ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe told the meeting, the third called to discuss Syria since the repression began.
A draft resolution calls for the United Nations General Assembly and the UN Security Council to consider the commission's report and take appropriate action while urging the appointment of a Special Rapporteur to investigate further.
European Union chair Poland said those guilty of abuses must be prosecuted.
"Perpetrators of the human rights violations must be held to account, in particular those who committed crimes that may warrant the attention of the International Criminal Court," said ambassador Remigiusz Henczel.
"This report deserves full consideration not only by this council, but by all relevant UN bodies, including the Security Council.
The international community must do everything in its power to stop the violence, the ambassador added.
However Russian ambassador Valery Loshchinin said the global community had been given a "one-sided" report of events in Syria.
The UN estimates that more than 4,000 have been killed and many more injured in the crackdown which High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said had brought the country to the brink of civil war.
"The Syrian authorities' continual ruthless repression, if not stopped now, can drive the country into a fully-fledged civil war," she told the opening of the meeting.
"In light of the manifest failure of the Syrian authorities to protect their citizens, the international community needs to take urgent and effective measures to protect the Syrian people."
The High Commissioner repeated a call to the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.
"The commission's report reinforces that the need for international accountability has even greater urgency today," Pillay said.
In its findings published Monday the panel said Syrian security forces committed crimes against humanity, including the killing and torture of children, after orders from the top of Bashar al-Assad's regime.
It interviewed 223 victims and witnesses, among them defectors from Assad's security forces who told of shoot to kill orders to crush demonstrators and cases of children being tortured to death.
The three-member group tasked by the Human Rights Council was not allowed access to Syria and carried out its interviews elsewhere and via Skype, chair Paulo Pinheiro told the meeting.
State forces killed 56 children in November in the "deadliest month" since the start of crackdown on dissidents, he said, adding that a total of 307 were estimated to have been killed.
"The extreme suffering of the population inside and outside Syria must be addressed as a matter of urgency," Pinheiro said.
© 2011 AFP