Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS)

13 NGOs at UN Human Rights Council: Impunity Fuels Conflict in Syria

Geneva, Copenhagen, May 27th, 2013 – In view of 23rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council starting today in Geneva, a group of 13 Human Rights organisations* submitted two written statements** on Impunity in Syria and on Syrian Women in which they gave a worrying account on the escalating human rights violations in Syria, in particular for Syrian women. The Human Rights NGOs urged the international community to take a strong stance against the ongoing impunity for all perpetrators of international crimes.

Since 2011, tens of thousands of Syrians including protestors, opposition members and hundreds of women and children, have been arbitrarily arrested and exposed to brutal acts of torture by the Syrian government. By the end of 2012, more than 60,000 deaths have been documented in the context of the repression of the uprising and subsequent armed conflict while violations from the Syrian government and the opposition that constitute international crimes have allegedly been perpetrated on a wide-scale despite their obligations to abide by the principals of international humanitarian law in the context of internal armed conflict.

Deeply alarmed by this situation, the organisations call for an immediate halt to torture and all armed aggression against civilian areas, immediate release of all arbitrarily detained persons and refer the ones responsible of these crimes to independent and impartial jurisdiction for trial.

The inability of the Security Council to address this situation, due to its political nature, has so far provided a de facto protection to the perpetrators of gross human rights violations in Syria, as the Council has until now failed to its duty to refer the case of Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) so that those who have committed those crimes are held responsible.

While the international community is trying to find a way to stop the violence in Syria, the EMHRN considers that any diplomatic negotiations must address as a top priority the issue of justice and the fight against impunity.

The organisations call upon the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria (COI) and the UN Human Rights Council to explicitly demand that the Security Council refer Syria to the ICC and to reject politicisation of human rights violations and support efforts to fight against impunity for all perpetrators of international crimes in Syria.

Read the full written statement on Impunity in Syria here (also available in Arabic and French)
Ongoing violations of Syrian women’s rights

In another written statement, the 13 undersigned organisations express their deepest concern  to the increasing violations of Syrian women and girls’ rights including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture, kidnapping, sexual violence and summary executions. They urge the Syrian government to abide by international rules in relation with protection and promotion of women’s in the context of armed conflicts as notably expressed in the UN Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) and the international community to Refer the case of Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to ensure that perpetrators of international crimes, including against women and girls, be held accountable.

The statement indicates, that between March 2011 and April 2013, more than 5400 women have been arrested by the Syrian government, including 1200 university students. The whereabouts of many remain unknown. Abuses against women, including sexual harassment and rape, began in the context of governmental campaigns against the protest movement to intimidate the population from joining in. Peaceful protestors and female activists are now facing state prosecutions under a range of recently adopted legal provisions which consider peaceful humanitarian and political activities as ‘acts of terrorism’.

Read the full written statement on Syrian women’s violations in the context of the conflict in Syria here (also available in Arabic and French)

For more information please contact: 
Mathieu Routier, mro@euromedrights.net,  +33 (0) 1 48 18 06 86 

*Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network 
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
Assyrian Human Rights Network
Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies
Kurdish Center for documentation of human rights violations
Kurdish Committee for Human Rights (Rased)
Kurdish Organization for Human rights (DAD)
Syrian Network for Human Rights
Syrian Center for Human Rights
Syrian Organization for Human Rights (Sawasyah)
Syrian Women Network
Violations Documentation Center in Syria
** The 2 written interventions listed above were submitted on May 10 and are not updated on the latest developments