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Text of the Joint Statement Delivered at the 17th Session of the Human Rights Council on Syria

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Washington, DC

Press Statement»

Mr. President,

On April 29, the Human Rights Council adopted Resolution 16/1 which unequivocally condemned the use of lethal violence against peaceful protesters in Syria. It called for Syria to launch a credible and impartial investigation and to prosecute those responsible for attacks on peaceful protesters, to allow humanitarian access, and to cooperate fully with and grant access to the mission of the High Commissioner. The Council decided to remain seized of the matter.

Since the 16th Special Session of the Human Rights Council, the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic has dramatically deteriorated. On June 3, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon demanded an immediate end to the violent repression by security and military forces so that a genuine and inclusive dialogue could take place, leading to the comprehensive reforms and change called for by the Syrian people. The Secretary General also reiterated his call for a full, transparent and independent investigation into the killings.

On June 9, the High Commissioner for Human Rights urged Syria to halt its assault on its own people. She condemned the Syrian authorities’ unrelenting violent crackdown on peaceful protestors across the country, stressing that “It is utterly deplorable for any government to attempt to bludgeon its population into submission, using tanks, artillery and snipers.” HC Pillay expressed particular concern about reports of civilians fleeing in the wake of recent threatening statements by Government officials. She urged States to keep their borders open for refugees fleeing Syria. The High Commissioner urged authorities to cooperate with her Office by granting her mission access to Syria “to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law and establish the facts and circumstances of such violations and of the crimes perpetrated.”

Likewise, the UN Secretary General’s Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect have noted that the systematic and widespread attacks appear primarily to have targeted the civilian population. This underscores the need for an independent, thorough, and objective investigation. Ten UN special procedure mandate holders have also spoken out about the human rights abuses in Syria. They have called on the Syrian government to stop the use of force against peaceful protestors, for credible, independent and transparent investigations into these abuses to take place, and accountability for those who perpetrated them.

Mr. President,

The cross-regional group of 54 States that have joined together to make this Statement fully share all these concerns.
More than 1000 people peacefully protesting for democracy, respect for human rights and long-due reforms have reportedly been killed to date, and thousands arbitrarily detained. Credible observers provide daily reports of killings, arbitrary detention, and torture of men, women, and children. These reports must be independently verified. We call on the Syrian authorities to launch a credible and impartial investigation and bring those responsible for unlawful attacks against civilians to justice as called for in Special Session Resolution 16/1 and to cooperate fully with the OHCHR mission and allow them immediate access.

The continued violence, multi-day curfews and military lockdowns are restricting access to basic goods and services, such as health care, medicines and food, causing great concern for the situation of children, the elderly, the sick and wounded, as well as refugees and other vulnerable groups. Injured and wounded people must be allowed to seek treatment without fear of reprisals.

We call upon the Syrian Government to respect the will of its people and to implement reforms, taking meaningful steps to end censorship, restrictions on journalists and independent observers, and state control of the media. We also call on the Syrian Government to respect freedom of expression and of association and assembly and immediately lift restrictions on the media and the Internet that silence dissent. Arbitrary arrests, detention and torture, including of protestors, of human rights defenders, of representatives of the media, political dissidents, and young children must cease immediately.

In closing Mr President,

Our strong cross-regional group of States urges the Government of Syria to cooperate with this Council to ensure that the human rights of all in Syria are fully respected. We reiterate our call on the Syrian Arab Republic to immediately allow the mission of the High Commissioner unfettered access to investigate and establish the facts and circumstances surrounding all violations and abuses of international human rights law.

Thank you Mr President.

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