Arab Nations Urge Damascus to Cooperate with U.N. Probe
Arab countries on Friday tabled a resolution lamenting the spiraling violence in Syria and demanding that the regime cooperate with a U.N. probe into rights violations in the war-torn country.
Two years into the conflict that the U.N. says has killed more than 70,000 people and forced more than one million more to flee to neighboring countries, the draft resolution blamed Damascus for most of the violations taking place and demanded that it "cooperate fully" with a U.N. inquiry that has yet to gain access to Syria.
The resolution -- submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva by Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates and posted on the council's website -- called for the U.N. investigators to be granted "immediate, full and unfettered access throughout the Syrian Arab Republic."
Unable to enter Syria, the commission has interviewed over 1,500 refugees and exiles as a basis for its reports. It charges that the government forces, their allies as well as opposition forces have carried out war crimes in Syria.
It has repeatedly urged the deadlocked U.N. Security Council to refer the cases to the International Criminal Court.
Friday's draft resolution stressed that the Syrian people themselves should be allowed to decide what mechanisms should be used "to achieve reconciliation, truth and accountability for gross violations, as well as reparations and effective remedies for victims."
The resolution strongly condemned human rights abuses carried out by both sides, but noted that "abuses committed by anti-government armed groups did not reach the intensity and scale of the violations committed by the government forces and its affiliated militia."
It especially condemned "intentional and repeated attacks against medical facilities, personnel and vehicles" in Syria, and demanded that Syrian authorities release anyone being arbitrarily detained.
It also lamented the widespread violations of children's rights in the country, including the use of child soldiers and "widespread sexual violence ... which constitutes an attack against human dignity."
The draft resolution also decried the escalating humanitarian crisis in Syria, demanding that Damascus "allow and facilitate unimpeded and full access of humanitarian organisations to all areas" of Syria.
And it urged the international community to step up its aid efforts and to provide urgent financial support to Syria and its neighbors, which are hosting a ballooning refugee population.
Diplomats will decide whether to pass the resolution at the end of the current Human Rights Council session, which wraps up on March 22.