The oral intervention delivered by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies during an urgent debate on the situation in Syria at 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council
Oral intervention – urgent debate on Syria
Delivered by: Ms. Laila Matar
The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) applauds the convening of this Urgent Debate on Syria, and urges the member states of United Nations, including the Human Rights Council, to act with all due haste on the findings and recommendations of the Syrian Commission of Inquiry submitted to this Council six days ago. In its report the Commission concluded that Syrian government “forces have committed widespread, systematic and gross human rights violations, amounting to crimes against humanity” (para.126), that these crimes have been “committed… within a system of impunity” (para. 127), and “that a reliable body of evidence exists… to believe that particular individuals, including commanding officers and officials at the highest levels of Government, bear responsibility for crimes against humanity.” As such the COI “has deposited with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights a sealed envelope containing the names of these people, which might assist future credible investigations” (para. 87-88).
This envelope symbolizes an important choice before this Council and UN member states. Make no mistake: impunity is at the heart of what is occurring in Syria and the wider Middle-East. Those within Syria who continue to set up and run what has been referred to as “torture factories,” where children are regularly subjected to the most horrific brutality, where sexual organs are cut off to make a “statement” and internal organs extracted from the bodies of those who have been murdered, where children, women and men are raped, where people are mutilated beyond recognition—those within Syria who have ordered and carried out indiscriminate bombarding of towns with tanks and artillery—those who commit such acts of brutality are emboldened to do so with a strong belief that they will never be held accountable.
In this context, the sealed envelope in the possession of the OHCHR contains not only a list of names but also a key to Syria’s future. That future will either be one of increased conflict and suffering or genuine democratic reform and an end to the brutality that has been used for decades by the government of Syria to repress its citizens. We urge the Council to ensure that the evidence gathered by the COI is immediately communicated to the Security Council for potential referral to the International Criminal Court, and all efforts undertaken to ensure accountability for crimes against humanity committed in Syria. The envelope cannot remain sealed. Those who have suffered and died for democratic reform deserve a real commitment and concerted action to ensure credible criminal investigations.
Thank you Madam President.
Intervention’s video link:
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