AI: Syria forces guilty of crimes against humanity

[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Wednesday published a report holding the Syrian government responsible for human rights violations in Aleppo that AI claims amount to crimes against humanity. "All-out repression: Purging dissent in Aleppo, Syria" [report, PDF; press release] documents how security forces and militias routinely used live fire against peaceful demonstrations in and around Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria, killing and injuring protesters and bystanders. AI contends that, as the size and frequency of these anti-government protests in Aleppo increased in recent months, government forces employed "reckless and brutal use of force that inevitably led to peaceful demonstrators being killed and injured." The report "details a wide range of systematic, state-directed violations including the deliberate targeting of peaceful protesters and activists, the hunting down of injured protesters, the routine use of torture, the targeting of medics providing life-saving emergency treatment to the wounded, arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances." AI further claims that arrested individuals were routinely tortured, threatened and intimidated while in detention, and reiterates its long-standing calls for the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court [official websites].

Last week UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] insisted that the Syrian government take steps to protect civilians [JURIST report] during armed conflicts, noting that recent violence in the country has often led to the death of civilians who were not notified that the conflict was approaching their area. Also last week AI accused government forces and rebels in Syria of summarily capturing and killing [JURIST report] opposition forces in violation of international humanitarian law. Syria has recently been facing international criticism for human rights violations. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Monday expressed his concern that Syria could potentially use chemical weapons [JURIST report] in its ongoing conflict, even though the Syrian government has stated it would not use such weapons against its own citizens. Last Friday the UN Security Council extended the UN monitoring mission in Syria [JURIST report] for an additional 30 days. The mandate for the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) [official website], deployed as part of the peace plan of UN Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan, received a unanimous vote for a 30-day extension in the Security Council.

 

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