Freedom House Applauds UN Human Rights Council Resolution on Syria, Calls for Stronger International Response | Freedom House

Freedom House Applauds UN Human Rights Council Resolution on Syria, Calls for Stronger International Response

Washington

Freedom House commends the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for passing a resolution today at a special session on Syria calling for an investigation of human rights abuses in that country, including the deaths of hundreds of Syrian civilians at the hands of the government.
 
“The resolution passed today represents an important win for human rights and should send a strong signal to the international community that a much stronger response is needed to prevent the Syrian regime from committing further atrocities,” said Paula Schriefer, director of advocacy at Freedom House. “While we commend some Arab League countries for allowing the vote to pass through their absence during the vote, it is time for the Arab League as a whole to recognize that the situation in Syria demands the same level of response as that in Libya.”
 
The resolution, which was spearheaded by the United States, contains strong language expressing “grave concern with respect to alleged deliberate killings, arrests, and instances of torture of peaceful protesters by the Syrian authorities,” and “unequivocally condemns the use of lethal violence against peaceful protestors by the Syrian authorities.” Though it originally called for a Commission of Inquiry similar to that called for in the resolution on Libya in March, it was softened slightly and in its final form calls for an investigation by Human Rights Council staffers. The United States worked diligently behind the scenes to amass support for the special session in the face of significant opposition by the Arab League states, which only weeks ago endorsed Syria’s candidacy to the Human Rights Council in elections that will take place on May 20.
 
“In just the past two months we have seen the Human Rights Council establish a new mandate on Iran, as well as convene special sessions and issue strong resolutions against both Libya and Syria.  These actions are a testament to the significance of strong engagement by democracies—both established and emerging—at the Council,” continued Schriefer. “Today’s action should persuade Syria to immediately withdraw its candidacy from the Council and should remind all members of the UN General Assembly to fulfill their obligations of electing only countries with a strong commitment to human rights to the Council in the future. At a minimum, it should prevent them from electing the world’s worst human rights abusers.”
 
The resolution was endorsed by 26 of the Council’s 47 member states. Nine countries voted against the resolution: Bangladesh, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Gabon, Malaysia, Mauritania, Pakistan, and Russia. Seven countries – Cameron, Djibouti, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Uganda and Ukraine – abstained. Notably, four delegations - Angola, Bahrain, Jordan, and Qatar – were not present at the time of the vote.
 
Syria is one of the world’s most brutal regimes. More than 400 people have been killed since reform protests began a few months ago. The state of emergency, in force since 1963 and only lifted in mid-April, has given the security agencies virtually unlimited authority to arrest citizens and hold them incommunicado for prolonged periods without charge. Many of the estimated 2,000 to 2,500 political prisoners in Syria have never been tried.
 
Syria is ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2011, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2010.
 
For more information on Syria visit:
 
 
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.
 
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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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