UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] on Friday expressed concern [statement text] regarding the escalation of violence in Syria and called for end to the repression by security and military forces. Ban cited 70 deaths in the last week, disturbing reports of the deaths of children under torture, live ammunition and shelling in his statement. The statement calls for independent and transparent investigations of the killings. Ban recognized the Syrian government's announcement earlier this week granting amnesty to political prisoners [JURIST report] and the establishment of a committee to establish open dialogue but emphasized that the violent repression must cease in order to have inclusive dialogue and which will lead to the reforms demanded by the Syrian people. The Secretary-General's Special Representative on Violence against Children [official website], Marta Santos Pais, expressed deep concern [statement] regarding reports from UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) [official website] that 30 children have died [press release] as a result of use of live ammunition.
Last month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged Syria to lift the siege [JURIST report] on the town of Daraa and accused Syrian authorities of violating international law in attempting to quell protesters. Movement in and out of Daraa came almost to a halt in April when the Syrian army surrounded the city, cutting electricity, phone lines and Internet services as well as supplies such as food and medicine. In late April, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website], in an emergency special session, publicly condemned the violence used by Syrian authorities [JURIST report] against peaceful protesters. Earlier that month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] called for Syria to immediately halt the killings [JURIST report] and violence against civilian protesters in response to the fatal shootings of peaceful anti-government protesters. Also in April, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ended the country's 48-year-old state of emergency [JURIST report], but protests have continued.