Arab League monitors in Syria 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/via Reuters Tv/Handout)
The Arab League should publicly release its Mission's final report on
Syrian protests, Human Rights Watch declared Friday. In an open letter
addressed to the Arab Foreign Ministers Council, the human rights NGO
urged the League to "address concerns that the monitoring mission is
being manipulated by the Syrian authorities."
also urged the League to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court
and to impose an arms embargo on Damascus in conjunction with the
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Arab League monitors have been in Syria since December 26, verifying
Syria's compliance with an Arab plan that called for an end to killings,
an army withdrawal from the streets, release of detainees and a
In its letter, Human Rights Watch stated that "our research and other
credible reports show that the Syrian government is failing in a number
of respects to meet its commitments."
"Attacks by security forces against peaceful protests have been reported
every day since the Arab League Mission began," it said, citing
specific instances of Syrian forces opening fire on peaceful protesters.
The British-based rights and advocacy group Avaaz lists at least 20
instances of security forces opening fire on protesters before, during
or after a visit from the Arab monitors.
The letter also referenced the ongoing military deployment in cities,
restricted movement of journalists, and the arbitrary arrest of
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In light of its findings, Human Right Watch urged the Arab League to
"publicly release the Mission’s final report and to specifically report
on whether the Syrian government is complying with the protocol and
whether and how the Syrian government is interfering with the work of
the Mission." The NGO wrote that if the monitors have not been operating
independently and effectively, the League should reconsider the
usefulness of the Mission.
of the 165-strong mission say it has only bought more time for Assad to
pursue a violent crackdown. Monitors are dependent on Syrian
authorities for transport and security, compromising the Mission's
independence in the eyes of critics. At least one monitor has already
quit, calling the Mission a "farce". According to the Syrian Observatory
for Human Rights, 454 civilians and 146 soldiers, including 27
deserters, have been killed since the monitors deployed.
Arab foreign ministers are set to meet on Sunday to decide the future of the observers, whose month-long mandate expired
Thursday.Reuters contributed to this article.
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