U.N. Alarmed by Possible Crimes Against Humanity in Syria

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U.N. special advisers on human rights have said that violations reportedly committed by security forces in Syria may qualify as crimes against humanity.

Francis Deng, the special adviser to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the prevention of genocide and Edward Luck, the special adviser on the responsibility to protect, said Friday that Syrian security forces have reportedly continued to kill civilians and make arbitrary arrests.

"Based on available information, the Special Advisers consider that the scale and gravity of the violations indicate a serious possibility that crimes against humanity may have been committed and continue to be committed in Syria," said Deng and Luck.

They called for an "independent, thorough, and objective investigation" of the events in Syria, where demonstrations by civilians calling for greater democracy have been brutally suppressed.

The U.N. advisers echoed calls by the secretary general to the Syrian government to allow humanitarian access to areas affected by the unrest and to facilitate the visit of the U.N. Human Rights Council-mandated fact-finding mission to the country.

"Without these steps, it will be very difficult to defuse existing tensions and to prevent the escalation of violence," they said.

"All actors involved in the current crisis in Syria are urged to refrain from the use of force, from acts of violence, or from incitement to violence."

Amnesty International earlier this month described an assault by Syrian forces against pro-democracy protestors in the border town of Tall Kalakh as crimes against humanity.

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