` Human Rights Council Resolution is ` Illegitimate ' and `Islamic Republic of Iran ' Considers the Approach Non-Constructive '

#AceWorldNews – TEHRAN – March 31 – Expressing regret over issuing a resolution against Iran at the UN Human Rights Council, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman said approval of the resolution on Iran is based on dual standards and has political aims.

Marziyeh Afkham said that the move aims to create dispute between countries, impose special standards on others, and disrupt international human rights mechanism.

She stressed that Islamic Republic of Iran considers this approach non-constructive.

Afkham added that issuing such resolutions is ignoring Iranˈs positive steps in fulfilling its obligations and its constructive cooperation with international bodies and the improving trend of human rights in Iran.

Afkham continued that the resolution is following political interests and lacks legitimacy, adding that it is regretful that sponsors of the resolution are silent and indifferent about violation of human-rights of Palestinian people, and fate of innocent people, who are being taken hostage by terrorist groups and citizens who lose their lives on pretext of fight against terrorism.

The spokeswoman stressed that promotion of human rights is a global concern and no country is superior to others in such an important human responsibility and Iran has positive interaction with related international bodies and intends to make a dialogue and cooperate in a realistic way.

IRNA News

#ANS2014

#human-rights, #iran, #islamic-republic-of-iran, #palestinian, #tehran, #terrorist, #united-nations-human-rights-council

` Pakistani leaders hope to convince ` United Nations Human Rights Council ' to force `US Drone Strike's to adhere to International Law '

#AceWorldNews – Pakistani leaders hope to convince the United Nations Human Rights Council to pass a resolution that would force US drone strikes to adhere to international law – a request that inspired the US to boycott the talks altogether, according to a new report.

The draft of a Pakistani resolution, first reported by Column Lynch of Foreign Policy, proposes that nations “ensure transparency” when discussing drone strikes and “conduct prompt, independent and impartial investigations whenever there are indications of any violations to human rights caused by their use.”

WP – Related News – http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-curtails-drone-strikes-in-pakistan-as-officials-there-seek-peace-talks-with-taliban/2014/02/04/1d63f52a-8dd8-11e3-833c-33098f9e5267_story.html

#ANS2014

#pakistani, #united-nations-human-rights-council, #us

” UN Human Rights Office urges `Australia’ to reconsider their policy on shipping asylum-seekers to PNG”

#AceWorldNews says the UN’s human rights office on Friday urged Australia to reconsider its policy of shipping asylum-seekers to Papua New Guinea and detaining them there.

The statement followed a riot at a holding center that left one person dead, AFP said.

The Manus Island facility and another center in the tiny Pacific nation of Nauru are the core of Australia’s punitive off-shore detention policy, which has been repeatedly condemned by human rights groups.

#afp, #australia, #manus-island, #papua-new-guinea, #un, #united-nations-human-rights-council

UN #HumanRights Office: “Concerned about Decision by Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs to Declare Illegal a Coalition of 54 Non-Islamic Civil Society Groups”

#AceWorldNews says the United Nations human rights office today expressed concern about a decision by the Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs to declare illegal a coalition of 54 mainly non-Islamic civil society groups focused on human rights known by the acronym COMANGO.

“We call upon Government of Malaysia to amend the Societies Act 1966, maximize the space for human rights activists and organisations to operate freely, and ensure that they can conduct their legitimate activities without intimidation or harassment,” the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, told journalists in Geneva.

The COMANGO coalition submitted joint reports to both the UN Human Rights Council’s 2009 and 2013 Universal Periodic Reviews (UPR) of the situation in Malaysia.

Since its submission to the second cycle of the UPR, which took place on 24 October 2013, the coalition has reportedly been subjected to a series of harassment and threats, allegedly by both State and non-State actors. The coalition has been accused of attacking Islam and of spreading beliefs that do not conform to Islamic teachings.

The Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs declared in a press statement on 8 January that COMANGO promotes rights which are not in line with Islam, and is therefore illegal.

The statement also noted that only 15 of the 54 organizations are registered under the Societies Act 1966.

“We are concerned by what appears to be an act of reprisal against COMANGO for its engagement with international human rights mechanism,” the spokesperson added.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, High Commissioner Navi Pillay and the Geneva-based Human Rights Council have persistently called for the protection of individuals and members of groups that cooperate with the UN, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights from acts of intimidation or reprisal.

#humanrightnews, #humanrights, #comango, #malaysian-ministry-of-home-affairs, #united-nations-human-rights-council, #upr

Surveillance of Communications Must Never be Conducted without Independent Judicial Oversight – Unless it is to Respond to National Security Threats

privacy

privacy (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

#AceSecurityNews says a draft resolution to protect the right to privacy in the digital age that was approved this week by a General Assembly committee is a first step, according to an independent UN expert who called for more to be done to ensure trust in the safety of communications.

“If States are truly committed to ensuring that all the rights which apply offline continue to be valid online, they urgently need to take concrete steps to secure respect for the privacy of communications as a universal right everywhere – not only within their own borders,” the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank La Rue, <“http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=14033&LangID=E“>said in a news release yesterday.

The General Assembly committee dealing with human rights questions, also known as the Third Committee, on Tuesday unanimously approved the text recognizing the need for States to establish oversight mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability for surveillance initiatives. The 193-member Assembly is expected to vote on the non-binding resolution next month.

“To demonstrate their commitment to protect privacy and to ensure people can communicate freely, States can start by immediately revising their own laws and the role of the judiciary, in order to correct serious gaps that exist in most national legal frameworks,” said Mr. La Rue.

He emphasized that the surveillance of communications must never be conducted without independent judicial oversight, even though it might be exceptionally required to monitor communications in order to respond to criminal activity or national security threats.

Parliaments should also play a role through the systematic review of the work of security and intelligence entities.

Human Rights

Human Rights (Photo credit: h de c)

Blanket and indiscriminate surveillance should never be legal,” Mr. La Rue stressed. “International human rights standards demand that any interference with human rights be considered on a case-by-case basis in which a court weighs the proportionality of the benefit to be gained against the harm which may be done.”

Despite technological changes, the expert felt that no new international legal instruments are needed. “Privacy is a recognized human right. For decades there has been a solid understanding that privacy in postal services should be respected by all States. Therefore, there are no reasons for questioning existing guarantees to privacy in telephone or internet communications,” he said.

Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Genevabased UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

 

#frank-william-la-rue, #general-assembly, #geneva, #human-right, #human-rights, #national-security, #non-binding-resolution, #privacy, #united-nations, #united-nations-human-rights-council, #united-nations-special-rapporteur, #united-states

“Freedom of Religion or Belief is a Right of All Human Beings, Not a Right of the State”

#AceWorldNews says the UN Rights Experts Urge Malaysia to Reverse Decision to Restrict Use of ” ALLAH’ TO MUSLIMS”

English: Martin Scheinin, United Nations Speci...

English: Martin Scheinin, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the protection of human rights while countering terrorism, in front of Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Several independent United Nations human rights experts today urged the Malaysian Government to reverse its decision to ban a Catholic publication from using the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God, warning that the case may have far-reaching implications for religious minorities in the country.

Freedom of religion or belief is a right of human beings, not a right of the State,” the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, <“http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=14023&LangID=E“>stressed in a news release. “It cannot be the business of the State to shape or reshape religious traditions, nor can the State claim any binding authority in the interpretation of religious sources or in the definition of the tenets of faith.”

The Bahasa Malaysia, or standard Malay, translation for one God is ‘Allah’, which entered the language from Arabic and has been used by Christians in the region for many centuries, according to the press release.

In January 2009, the Ministry of Home Affairs ordered the newspaper Herald-The Catholic Weekly to stop using the word ‘Allah’ or face losing its publication permit. The newspaper argued the ban was unconstitutional and won an appeal in the Malaysian High Court.

However, last month, the Court of Appeal unanimously ruled that non-Muslims cannot use ‘Allah’ to refer to God. It stated that the usage of the name ‘Allah’ is not an integral part of the faith and practice of Christianity.

“Such usage, if allowed, would inevitably cause confusion within the community,” the appeal court judges ruled. The case is currently pending consideration at the Federal Court level.

An example of Allāh written in simple Arabic c...

An example of Allāh written in simple Arabic calligraphy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mr. Bielefeldt cautioned that “the current case may affect the right of all non-Muslims in Malaysia to use the word ‘Allah’ while referring to God.”

Also speaking out is Rita Izsák, the Independent Expert on minority issues, who said discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief constitutes a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and in this instance is a breach of the rights of a religious minority to freely practice and express their faith.

“Such actions may present an obstacle to friendly and peaceful relations between faith communities,” she warned.

The Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank La Rue, called on the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Malaysian Government to take steps to immediately secure the right to freedom of opinion and expression of the newspaper and withdraw unconditionally from further litigation on this issue.

Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

New York, Nov 25 2013  1:00PM

#humanrights, #allah, #freedom-of-religion, #heiner-bielefeldt, #malaysia, #ministry-of-home-affairs, #politics-of-malaysia, #united-nations, #united-nations-human-rights-council, #united-nations-special-rapporteur

Independent Experts Recently Voiced Serious Concern Over Reports That Chinese Activists Have Been Intimidated and Prevented From Taking Part in a Major Assessment of the Human Rights Situation in the Country

United Nations Human Rights Council logo.

United Nations Human Rights Council logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

#AceWorldNews says United Nations independent experts recently voiced serious concern over reports that Chinese activists have been intimidated and prevented from taking part in a major assessment of the human rights situation in the country.

“Intimidating civil society members who seek to contribute to such an important international dialogue is completely unacceptable,” said the Geneva-based experts in a <“http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13860&LangID=E“>news release. “Ensuring the free participation of civil society actors, including human rights defenders, and other national stakeholders, in this process is crucial.”

Activists have reportedly been threatened, arrested or banned from leaving China in the run-up to the second assessment of the country’s record by the UN Human Rights Council through its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism. The review will take place on 22 October 2013 in Geneva.

“These cases seem part of a pattern of increased harassment by China of those calling for greater accountability of public officials, transparency and political and legal reforms,” the experts said.

The experts received information that rights defenders Cao Shunli and Chen Jianfang were allegedly prevented from boarding flights to Geneva where they were due to participate in activities organized on the margins of a Human Rights Council session in September.

Chen Jianfang was reportedly told that she was barred from travelling abroad for life, while Cao Shunli was detained by Chinese security authorities on 14 September. Cao Shunli’s family has allegedly not received any formal notification of her detention.

It was also reported that Chinese civil society activists, who have demonstrated since June to defend their right to participate and receive information on China’s report to the UPR, have been threatened by local authorities on various occasions.

Znak graficzny UPR Eurowybory 2009

Znak graficzny UPR Eurowybory 2009 (Photo credit: Unia Polityki Realnej)

“These reports suggest there have been acts of reprisals against people who seek to cooperate with the UN,” said Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders Margaret Sekaggya.

“Defenders play a key role in holding States to account for the implementation of their human rights obligations, including at the international level. Their legitimate work should be fully respected.”

China accepted recommendations made during its first review in 2009 to strengthen its engagement with civil society to promote and protect human rights. The Government informed the UN experts that non-governmental organizations were consulted ahead of the UPR session and that the draft of the national report was available on its official website for comments.

Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, said that even if some organizations had participated in the UPR preparations, “nothing can justify excluding legitimate voices through intimidation.”

“Access to information and an open space for the free exchange of opinions and ideas are essential to ensure a proper review of the human rights record of any country,” Mr. La Rue stressed.

Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kai said preventing people to participate in the UPR and from demonstrating peacefully constitutes a breach of China’s international obligations to respect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.

“This obligation includes facilitating peaceful protests by providing protestors with access to public space, and protecting them, where necessary, against any threats,” he said.

Regarding the situation of Ms. Cao, the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances underlined that information on her detention, including the reasons and place of detention, should be made ready to avail to her family members and counsel.

The experts have also asked the Chinese authorities for further information regarding these allegations and called for the immediate release of all those detained after peacefully protesting for more civil society participation in the UPR process and advocating for human rights and good governance.

“These serious allegations must be investigated thoroughly and impartially by the Chinese authorities,” the experts concluded.

Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back, in an unpaid capacity, on specific human rights themes.

 

#china, #frank-william-la-rue, #geneva, #human-right, #special-rapporteur, #un-human-rights-council, #united-nations, #united-nations-human-rights-council, #united-nations-special-rapporteur, #universal-periodic-review, #upr

Activists Opposing Development Projects Increasingly Branded as Anti-Government

United Nations Human Rights Council logo.

United Nations Human Rights Council logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to a  UN expert activists who oppose any new development scheme by large corporations are being branded anti-government. The fact these schemes involve massive amounts of money and will in so many cases create a scar on the landscape and in a number of cases, poison or damage people’s livelihoods. The fact that theses corporations can run rough shod over laws. environmental groups and even bribe government officials to get what they want, seems not to matter.

Now  Human rights defenders who oppose large-scale development projects are increasingly being branded as ‘anti-government’ or ‘enemies of the State,’ a United Nations independent expert <“http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13912&LangID=E“>warned today.

Activists who are trying to help communities affected by large-scale projects such as the construction of hydroelectric power stations, dams and roads are often “harassed, stigmatized and criminalized for doing their work,” the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, said in her latest report to the General Assembly.

They also face threats, including deaths threats, and physical attacks. “But rather than being against development, defenders play an important role in advancing it,” Ms. Sekaggya said.

“It is essential that communities and those defending their rights are able to participate actively, freely and meaningfully in assessment and analysis, project design and planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of development projects.”

Abdulhadi Al khawaja with Margaret Sekaggya

Abdulhadi Al khawaja with Margaret Sekaggya (Photo credit: frontlinedefenders)

Ms. Sekaggya called for a rights-based approach that includes the principles of equality and non-discrimination, participation, protection, transparency and accountability, including access to appropriate remedy.

Inclusion and participation, as well as accessible information about large-scale development projects, can contribute significantly to defusing tensions, she added. In contrast, a lack of transparency could not only increase the vulnerability of defenders and the affected communities, but also seriously undermine the credibility and legitimacy of both State and private involvement in such projects.

States have an obligation to provide protection to those claiming their legitimate right to participate in decision-making processes and voicing their opposition to large-scale development projects,” she said. “It is essential that those who wish to report human rights concerns and violations can safely do so.”

Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

#aceworldnews, #humanrights, #enemy-of-the-state, #human-right, #human-rights-defender, #hydroelectricity, #sekaggya, #united-nations, #united-nations-human-rights-council, #united-nations-special-rapporteur

UN:Expert on Democracy States there can be No Democracy without Freedom of Opinion

English: The United Nations Security Council C...

English: The United Nations Security Council Chamber in New York, also known as the Norwegian Room Français: La Salle de réunion du Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies à New York Nederlands: De Zaal van de Veiligheidsraad van de Verenigde Naties in New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There can be no democracy without freedom of opinion, a United Nations independent expert said today, highlighting the importance of access to information as he also presented his ideas on making the main bodies of the UN – the General Assembly and the Security Council – more democratic.

“You should not be subjected to the pressures, the intimidation, whether by Government or by the private sector, which would force you into self-censorship,” Alfred M. de Zayas, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, told the UN News Centre following a briefing to journalists in New York.

“If you censor yourself, if you cannot articulate your needs, if you cannot articulate your priorities, then whatever you do, putting a little cross in a ballot box, etc, does not represent your view. It is an act of desperation,” he stressed.

Earlier in the day, Mr. de Zayas spoke to the General Assembly’s main social, humanitarian and cultural body (Third Committee), to which he presented 35 recommendations on international and national diplomacy, as well as studies to be carried out ranging from self-determination to issues related to indigenous people’s, war and peace and civil society.

“One of the problems that we have in the human rights community is that special interests often forget the interests of other victims, and there’s competition among victims expressions that are unnecessary,” he said, adding also that some victims are viewed as being “privileged” while others are more “excluded.”

Among those recommendations is the idea of establishing a world parliamentary assembly, or a UN parliamentary assembly, as a consultative body to the General Assembly, which would enhance the possibility of citizens participating in global decision-making and give greater voice to civil society.

Mr. de Zayas also highlighted international democracy deficits prevalent in the UN Security Council, and advanced the idea of phasing out the veto power available to the 15-member body’s five permanent States – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States.

“The UN system is not very democratic, everyone knows that the Security Council is not democratic,” said the independent expert.

Speaking following a press conference heavily attended by representatives of indigenous groups, Mr. de Zayas said he wanted to show a “degree of solidarity” them.

He urged a workshop to be held which would focus on implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples whom he called “the forgotten victims” and “the unsung heroes.”

“You cannot turn the clock back, you cannot give the island of Manhattan back to the indigenous, but on the other hand, you can ensure that the indigenous can maintain their way of life,” Mr. de Zayas said.

He also called for the media to take up the issue and inform the public about the Declaration.

Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

#aceworldnews, #alfred-maurice-de-zayas, #manhattan, #security-council, #united-nations, #united-nations-general-assembly, #united-nations-human-rights-council, #united-nations-parliamentary-assembly, #united-nations-security-council, #united-nations-special-rapporteur, #united-states

UN:Justice Must be Integral to Future Sustainable Development Agenda

United Nations UN has stated that Justice must be integral to any future  SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT Agenda, as Justice, security and development cannot be promoted one at the expense of the other, either through reductionism or strict sequencing, a United Nations independent expert today urged following his briefing to the General Assembly.

Pablo de Greiff, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence spoke to journalists in New York after briefing the General Assembly’s main social, humanitarian and cultural body (Third Committee) on his work.

“An interest in justice and rights is part of popular aspirations that ought to be captured by ongoing development discussions,” Mr. de Greiff said, telling the international community and particularly those involved in creating a sustainable development agenda following the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), about the relevance of justice and rights.

Referring to his report, the Special Rapporteur said that the MDGs and other development frameworks have failed to track either existing legal obligations or popular aspirations related to justice.

He highlighted the importance of transitional justice measures as mitigating some of these developmental blockages, in particular if a comprehensive approach is pursued.

Human rights violations, when left unaddressed can have an effect in creating a downward shift in people’s expectations,” he said, adding that people will shift their preferences downward rather than live in a permanent state of defeated expectations.

The UN independent expert also said that massive human rights violations undermine social trust and civic participation by having a marginalizing effect not just on the victims but on  other members of society, undermining their trust in trust in each other and in the institutions of the State.

Mr. de Greiff also raised the concerns associated with continuing to silo security, justice and development, keeping resources available for them different tracks.

Any new development agenda must satisfy a sort of “Tunisia test”, the Special Rapporteur said, which also stress good governance and equitable access to justice systems.

“Even from the point of view of security and development, failing to take justice seriously makes it more difficult for security forces to achieve their proper goal,” he said.

United Nations Human Rights Council logo.

United Nations Human Rights Council logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back, in an unpaid capacity, on specific human rights themes.

 

#aceworldnews, #greiff, #human-right, #millennium-development-goals, #new-york, #pablo-de-greiff, #special-rapporteur, #sustainable-development, #united-nations, #united-nations-human-rights-council, #united-nations-special-rapporteur

Press release – Human Rights and Democracy Report 2012 – 2013 – #Syria

Coat of arms of Syria -- the "Hawk of Qur...

Coat of arms of Syria — the “Hawk of Qureish” with shield of vertical tricolor of the national flag, holding a scroll with the words الجمهورية العربية السورية (Al-Jumhuriyah al-`Arabiyah as-Suriyah “The Syrian Arab Republic”). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Latest update: 30 September 2013

The human rights situation in Syria has continued to deteriorate in the period between July and September 2013. The conflict has reached devastating proportions: more than 100,000 Syrians have been killed, 6.8 million are in need inside Syria and over 5.8 million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes, with over 2 million people fleeing to neighbouring countries. Nearly a third of the Syrian population is in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

In light of the deteriorating humanitarian situation, the UK announced a further £100 million of humanitarian assistance on 25 September to help get essentials such as food, water and medicine to Syrian people in dire need. This brings the UK’s total to half a billion pounds, the UK’s largest response to a single humanitarian crisis. This reflects the scale, despair and brutality of the situation.

We remain in full support of the UN Commission of Inquiry, who continue to gather evidence of human rights violations and abuses with the aim of bringing those responsible to account. Their latest report, published on 11 September, highlighted how civilians are continuing to suffer from the ongoing fighting. The report described crimes against humanity and war crimes being committed by the regime and its forces, and serious violations committed by extremist anti-regime armed groups. The report concluded that there is no military solution to the conflict, and that a political solution founded upon the tenets of the Geneva communiqué is the only path to peace.

Against this background, the UK welcomed the adoption by the UN Human Rights Council of a new resolution on 27 September, which condemned the use of chemical weapons, called for the perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses to be held to account and demanded full access for the UN Commission of Inquiry and humanitarian workers. The resolution also condemned the use of chemical weapons and contained language on preventing sexual violence.

On the same day, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Syrian chemical weapons, ending a 17-month stalemate in the Security Council on Syria. The UK strongly supported this resolution, which is a welcome step towards our broad objective of achieving a political solution to end the crisis. We continue to work towards a second Geneva conference to bring all sides together. We are appalled by the chemical weapons attack in Damascus on 21 August, which led to the death of hundreds of civilians and wounded many more. All evidence points towards government responsibility for the attacks. The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have consistently made clear that those responsible for the most serious international crimes in Syria should be held to account, and we believe the situation in Syria should be referred to the International Criminal Court.

Since April 2012, we have committed over £40.5 million in non-humanitarian assistance to address the Syria crisis. This includes support to the moderate opposition, local councils, human rights defenders and civil society. We have provided equipment to help protect these groups and enable them to provide security and services to the Syrian people; this equipment includes armoured vehicles, body armour, generators, communications equipment and training for human rights activists.

Latest update: 30 June 2013

Syria

Syria (Photo credit: ewixx)

In the period between April and June 2013, the human rights situation in Syria continued to deteriorate. Over 93,000 Syrians have died, more than 1.6 million are refugees and 4.25 million have been displaced within Syria due to the conflict.

We remain in full support of the work of the UN Commission of Inquiry, who continue to gather evidence of human rights violations and abuses with the aim of bringing all those responsible to account. Their latest report, published on 4 June highlighted the new levels of brutality evident in the conflict; including documented cases of the use of chemical agents, the systematic imposition of sieges, forcible displacement and sexual and gender based violence and abuse. The report notes that whilst anti-government armed groups have also committed war crimes, their violations and abuses did not reach the intensity and scale of those committed by government forces and affiliated militia.

The UK welcomed the UN Human Rights Council’s adoption of a new resolution on 14 June, which strongly condemned the intervention of all foreign combatants, including those fighting on behalf of the Syrian regime. It urged all parties to refrain from any actions which may contribute to an increase in the number of violations of human rights and international law. The resolution stressed the need to follow-up on the Commission of Inquiry’s report and conduct a transparent and independent investigation into all violations of international law by all parties.

We also welcomed the UN Human Rights Council’s previous resolution adopted on 28 May, centred upon the Syrian government’s siege of Al-Qusayr. The resolution strongly condemned the violations of international law by Syrian authorities and government-affiliated militias, in particular the regime’s use of ballistic missiles and other heavy weapons against the people of Al-Qusayr. The resolution demanded that the Syrian authorities allow free and unimpeded access by the UN and humanitarian agencies, and requested that the Commission of Inquiry urgently conducts a comprehensive inquiry into the events in Al-Qusayr. In a statement on 4 June, the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, reiterated the request, calling on Assad’s forces to allow immediate humanitarian access to Al-Qusayr.

The UK remains committed to achieving a political solution to the crisis based on a vision for a united, inclusive and democratic Syria. As the Geneva Communiqué states, the public services must be preserved or restored. This includes the military forces and security services. However all governmental institutions and state offices must perform according to professional and human rights standards. We also condemn in the strongest possible terms all human rights violations and abuses in Syria, committed by anyone, including indiscriminate attacks on civilians. We call on all sides to respect international humanitarian and human rights laws, noting the particular responsibility of the Syrian authorities in this regard.

There are now 1.6 million refugees registered/in process in neighbouring countries, and nearly a third of the Syrian population is in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. The UK is doing all it can to help all those affected by the violence and is playing a leading role as a bilateral donor to the international humanitarian response. We have already contributed £173 million in humanitarian aid so far. This has provided food for over 132,000 people across Syria, clean drinking water for almost 1 million people and almost 300,000 medical consultations. As announced at the G8, the UK is now set to double its contribution, bringing our total support to £348 million, with over £100 million going to the UN appeals. The funding includes our ongoing humanitarian aid, as well as development assistance to Jordan and Lebanon, both of whom have seen a dramatic increase in the number of Syrian refugees in recent months.

The UK has also continued to provide support via non-lethal assistance, geared towards strengthening the moderate opposition, supporting civil society and helping to reduce the effects of regional spill over. This assistance includes training for human rights activists, communications equipment, body armour and water purification kits. This has brought the total of our non-lethal assistance to £30million.

Further Information

Read and comment on the country of concern – Syria

Read and comment on the Human Rights and Democracy Report 2012 in full

 

#aceworldnews, #peace-acenewsservices, #syria-international-development-secretary, #international-criminal-court, #royal-commission, #syria, #syrian-people, #un-commission-of-inquiry, #united-nations, #united-nations-human-rights-council, #united-nations-security-council, #william-hague