UN Human Rights Council launches new Syria inquiry

Int'l commission into Assad regime's violent crackdown which has killed more than 2,200 approved despite objections by Russia, China.

By REUTERS
August 23, 2011 12:56
2 minute read.
UNHRC headquarters in Geneva

UNHRC headquarters 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)

GENEVA - The UN Human Rights Council launched an international commission of inquiry on Tuesday into Syria's crackdown on anti-government protesters, including possible crimes against humanity, despite objections by Russia, China and Cuba.

The council condemned what it called "continued grave and systematic human rights violations by Syrian authorities such as arbitrary executions, excessive use of force and the killing and persecution of protesters and human rights defenders".

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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said on Monday more than 2,200 people have been killed in the five-month-old crackdown.

The 47-member forum easily adopted a resolution presented by the European Union, the United States and Arab countries including Saudi Arabia.

The vote was 33 states in favor with four against and 9 abstentions. Libya's membership in the council was suspended earlier this year so it has no vote.

"The resolution is adopted," Uruguay's ambassador Laura Dupuy Lasserre who chairs the Council, announced after the vote on the second and final day of a special session on Syria.

The council launched the inquiry to establish the facts "and where possible to identify those responsible with a view of ensuring that perpetrators of violations, including those that may constitute crimes against humanity, are held accountable".

Syria's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui rejected the resolution as unbalanced.

"This once again confirms that there is a determination to politically condemn Syria and pass over any proposal for opening and reform that exists in this country," he said in an appeal before the vote for members to reject the resolution.

The delegations of Russia, China and Cuba all took the floor to denounce what they called interference in Syria's internal affairs and say that they would vote against the text. Ecuador also voted against the resolution.

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