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More human rights abuses in Syria as conflict escalates - Commission of Inquiry

The Commission of Inquiry on Syria presented to the Human Rights Council the findings of its special inquiry of the events which occurred in Taldou, one of the larger towns of Al-Houla, 30 kilometres northwest of Homs.

More than 100 people were killed on 25 May during armed confrontations between Government and anti-Government forces. The majority of the casualties were reportedly women and children who were deliberately killed in their homes in two different areas of Taldou.

The Commission, which was not allowed to access the country to investigate, considered three possible scenarios for the killings which could have been carried out by Shabbiha or other local militias backed by Government forces; by anti-Government armed groups seeking to escalate the conflict; or by foreign groups with unknown affiliation.

“Inconsistencies in the available evidence hindered our ability to determine the identity of the perpetrators at this time,” said Paulo Pinheiro, Chairperson of the Commission. “Nevertheless, we consider that forces loyal to the Government may have been responsible for many of the deaths. We will continue our investigation until the end of our mandate.”

The Commission also studied the human rights situation in Syria since its last update to the Council in February 2012. It indicated that Government forces and Shabbiha had perpetrated unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture and other forms of ill-treatment, as well as sexual violence against women, men and children.

The Commission believes that anti-Government armed groups also committed violations by extra-judicially executing captured members of pro-Government forces, or abducting them to facilitate prisoner exchanges.

Pinheiro said that hostilities between pro and anti-Government forces had escalated dramatically over the reporting period and have extended to other regions not previously involved, despite commitment to follow the six-point plan devised by the UN and Arab League Joint Special Envoy, Kofi Annan, to end the crisis in Syria.

“The Commission has consistently expressed its concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic. Gross violations of human rights are occurring regularly in the context of increasingly militarized fighting, which – in some areas – bears the characteristics of a non-international armed conflict,” Pinheiro added.

28 June 2012

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