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UN Child Rights Committee appalled at deliberate targeting of children in Syria

GENEVA (31 May 2012) – The Committee on the Rights of the Child on Thursday strongly deplored the massacre that took place in the El Houleh area of Homs in Syria on 25 and 26 May in which at least 108 people, including 49 children, were killed. Most of these children were reportedly under the age of 10. The Committee expressed further alarm at reports by United Nations observers of the continued indiscriminate acts of violence and killings against the civilian population and the increasing number of civilian victims, particularly children.

“The Committee is deeply concerned that, since the beginning of protests in Syria in March 2011, hundreds of children have been killed, injured and detained, and that despite strong and repeated calls to the State and other parties to stop such grave violations, no action appears to have been taken,” the Committee stated. “We are appalled by information that in the El Houleh area, civilians - including children - could have been deliberately targeted.”

The Committee highlighted its concluding observations and recommendations, adopted on 7 October 2011, after reviewing the third and fourth periodic reports of the Syrian Arab Republic under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In particular, the Committee reiterated “its deepest concern over credible, corroborated and consistent reports of gross violations of children’s rights that have been committed since the start of the uprising in March 2011, including arbitrary arrests and detentions, killings of children during demonstrations, torture and ill-treatment.”

It further stated: “The Committee reminds the State party that it bears the primary responsibility to protect its population and should therefore take immediate measures to stop the use of excessive and lethal force against civilians and to prevent further violence against children, including killing and injuring.”**

The Committee, which is holding its 60th session in Geneva, urged the Syrian Arab Republic to ensure that perpetrators of the latest massacre at El Houleh, as well as all those responsible for crimes against children taking place in Syria, are held accountable.

“We echo the call of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for an immediate and unfettered investigation of the incident by an independent and impartial international body,” the Committee stated.

END

**The Concluding Observations can be found in document CRC/C/SYR/CO/3-4 on http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/crcs58.htm

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/

Check the Convention on the Rights of the Child: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm

UN Human Rights, country page – Syria: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/SYIndex.aspx

For interview requests regarding this press release, please contact:

Mr. Hatem Kotrane, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child
+41-76 640 4588
Ms. Marta Maurás, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child
+41-77 412 4457

For other media enquiries on the UN Human Rights office, please contact Ravina Shamdasani (rshamdasani@ohchr.org or +41229179310)

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