Britain calls for strong action against Syrian President Assad

LONDON (TIP): Britain has called for stern action against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad for the appalling human rights violations that have been carried out, with his consent. The United Nations for the first time on Monday directly named Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in being involved in serious war crimes, during the ongoing conflict in his country. UN human rights head Navi Pillay said that evidence had implicated the highest levels of the Syrian government in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Foreign Secretary William Hague reacted to the comments on Tuesday and said he endorses UN High Commissioner’s comments on Assad’s responsibility for regime’s appalling human rights record. Mr Hague said “I fully endorse the comments made by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on the Assad regime’s human rights record. She has pointed to evidence that senior members of Assad’s regime, up to and including Assad himself, bear primary responsibility for the appalling human rights situation.

The UK will continue to press for action on human rights violations in Syria, and accountability for those who perpetrate them. And we will maintain our full support to the UN’s Commission of Inquiry.” Pillay said on Monday that the scale of viciousness of the abuses being perpetrated by elements on both sides almost defies belief. She said in Geneva “A UN commission of inquiry into human rights violations in Syria has produced massive evidence of very serious crimes, war crimes, crimes against humanity”.

She then stressed “the evidence indicates responsibility at the highest level of government, including the head of state”. UN investigators have carried out more than 2,000 interviews and have for the first time put together a long list of suspected perpetrators. Pillay however added the names “remain sealed until I am requested to furnish them to credible investigation”. She reiterated her call the case be handed over to the International Criminal Court in the Hague to ensure accountability.

UN investigators recently found definitive evidence that children were being used in Syria as fighters. Investigators who were part of the UN commission of inquiry on Syria reported that armed groups are recruiting and using children for active participation in hostilities. Investigations have confirmed that 86 children were killed in hostilities as combatants. “Of those, nearly half died in 2013. These figures suggest the use of children in combat is increasing,” UN investigators have reported. Video footage has also emerged showing a child participating in the beheading of two kidnapped men.

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The UN has also confirmed 17 incidents which they term as “massacres.” They say summary executions and murders have been rife. Detained persons believed to be opposition sympathizers are the most frequent victims of such crimes. Killing civilians by sniper fire and killing of hostages and detainees when a detention centre comes under attack are noted patterns of violations by both pro and anti-government groups. There has been a dramatic rise in hostage-taking, said the report.

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