Tuesday, November 29, 2011

UN panel: orders to shoot to kill came from highest Syrian echelons

Investigators of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva have released a new report accusing Syrian government officials and leaders of the country's military and security forces of ordering mass atrocities in efforts to crush anti-government protests.
The Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria said on Monday that Syrian government forces committed crimes against humanity, including the killing and torturing of children, and held state officials responsible for murder, rape and torture. The panel interviewed 223 victims and witnesses, including defectors from President Bashar al-Assad's security forces who told of shoot-to-kill orders against  demonstrators and cases of children being tortured to death. At least 256 children had been killed by government forces as of early November, with some boys sexually tortured, the panel said.
"The commission believes that orders to shoot and otherwise mistreat civilians originated from policies and directives issued at the highest levels of the armed forces and the government," the panel said in its report.
Amnesty International has called on the Security Council to refer the case to the International Criminal Court, order an arms embargo and freeze the assets of Assad and his associates. Human Rights Watch said the UN Human Rights Council must refer the Syria case to the Security Council and call for it "to impose targeted sanctions and refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court".Because of the internal divisions, the Security Council has so far only agreed to a statement, with less moral weight, against the violence in Syria. The 193 member UN General Assembly passed a resolution last week deploring the violence.

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