US says UN probe team 'poised to enter' Syria

29th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

The US ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council said on Thursday she was confident that an international commission of inquiry into rights violations in Syria would be allowed into the country.

"The commission is poised to enter Syria to investigate serious allegations of crimes against humanity, and will also travel to the surrounding countries of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan to gather evidence and facts," US Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe told reporters.

"We believe they'll get access, we'll continue to push for access," she said, adding that she had already met with the three members of the investigative team.

"Syria (is) one of the most critical and pressing human rights situation in the world today," Donahoe said.

"Credible recent reports indicate that the Syrian government is not only brutally repressing activists but also targeting their family members, imprisoning, torturing and killing relatives of dissidents," the US representative said.

"We are confident that (the commission of inquiry) will report to the council in November," Donahoe added.

On August 23, at an emergency session, the Human Rights Council ordered a probe into violations committed by the Syrian regime during its crackdown on popular protests.

Investigators have been asked to establish the facts and circumstances of violations and to identify the perpetrators so that they can be held accountable.

The three experts, Yakin Erturk (Turkey), Sergio Pinheiro (Brazil), and Karen Abu Zeid (US) have been in Geneva since Tuesday to meet NGOs and diplomats, and are expected to speak to reporters Friday.

The probe is the second ordered by the council, an April session having already commissioned an investigation into the situation in Syria.

However, that team was blocked from entering Syria, and had therefore to base its probe on interviews of people in and out of the country, as well as on videos, photos and written communications.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates that at least 2,700 people had been killed in the unrest in Syria since popular protests first broke out in mid-March.

© 2011 AFP

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