The Human Rights Council must act to end impunity and to protect vulnerable groups in Syria

In Arab Countries, United Nations Human Rights Council by CIHRS


United Nations Human Rights Council: 25th Session

Item 4: ID COI Syria: Oral Intervention

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)

18 March 2014

Delivered by: Mr. Amir Kazkaz


The Human Rights Council must act to end impunity and to protect vulnerable groups in Syria

Thank you Mr President,

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN), the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) and their Syrian partner organizations[1] welcome the 7th report of the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic and commend the extensive efforts by the COI to uncover international crimes occurring in Syria.

Three years after the eruption of the peaceful protest movement, Syria has become the theatre of the gravest possible patterns of human rights violations and international crimes. In the course of the conflict, the various warring parties have utterly failed to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, incurring individual criminal responsibility. The deep-rooted culture of impunity remains a major factor that fuels the conflict in Syria.

Our organizations are appalled by the disastrous impact of the conflict on Syrian civilians and notably on women, who have increasingly been targeted in the context of the war by both pro-government and non-state armed groups.

Such deliberate targeting of Syrian women has been used as a military tactic in the conflict, including during massacres, shellings, or sniper shots. Hundreds of women are arbitrarily detained in dire conditions by the Syrian authorities and routinely exposed to physical, sexual and psychological torture. Non-state armed groups have been increasingly committing kidnappings of women. It is estimated that dozens of thousands of Syrians are being exposed to enforced disappearances in Syria, including at least 2000 women.

Documentation carried out by Syrian human rights groups demonstrates that rape, sexual harassment and various forms of sexual violence have been perpetrated by government forces and supporting militia against men, women and children in a widespread and systematic manner, notably within certain detention facilities. These acts constitute crimes against humanity and have a destructive effect on the social fabric of the Syrian society.

The conflict has also resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Syrians, including women, who are often accompanied by their children. An estimated 2 million women are IDPs, while approximately 1.2 million women have fled the country to seek refuge in neighboring countries, where they find themselves in highly vulnerable situations.

The continuous random use of explosive barrels on civilian populated areas is unbearable. At this very moment, the Syrian government continues to besiege entire civilian communities and to cut off access to basic human needs such as water, food, shelter, and medical care as part of its military strategy. The Syrian authorities have conducted arbitrary arrests of civilians seeking medical treatment, trying to access food, or leaving their homes through established humanitarian corridors.

Mr. President, distinguished delegates,

The Syrian people are losing faith in international human rights mechanisms, as they feel abandoned and betrayed by the international community. It is the duty of this assembly to take urgent and practical steps to pave the way to overcome the state of impunity that has prevailed in Syria for decades and to ensure protection of the most vulnerable.

We therefore reiterate our call to the Council to carry out its duty to defend the interests of the victims of human rights violations by explicitly and firmly calling upon the Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court.

Thank you Mr. President

[1] Assyrian Human Rights Network (AHRN), Center for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria (CCSDS), Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS), Etana Press, Kurdish Organization for Human Rights in Syria (DAD), Syrian Center for Human Rights (SCHR), Syrian League for Citizenship (SLC), Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), Syria Justice and Accountability Center (SJAC), Syrian Organization for Human Rights – Sawasyah, Violations Documentation Center in Syria (VDC)


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