24 NGOs call for UN rights council emergency session on Syria

GENEVA — An international coalition of human rights and church relief organizations are urging the UN’s 47-member Human Rights Council to “end its silence on the atrocities now being committed by the Syrian regime.” The groups are calling for the council to convene an emergency session on the bloody crackdown, hold televised hearings in Geneva for victims to testify, and create a special investigator into rights violations by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Led by UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights advocacy group, the appeal was submitted in a letter today to council president Laura Dupuy Lasserre, signed by 24 non-governmental, humanitarian and church groups from Australia, Burkina Faso, DR Congo, France, Germany, India, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Switzerland, Uganda, the US and Vietnam.

The NGOs criticized the council for holding only one meeting on Syria more than three months ago, saying the UN body had “failed to take prompt or effective action to protect the victims of Syrian mass killings.”

“It’s wrong for the world’s top human rights body to turn a blind eye to Syria’s massacre of its own people, whether in Hama, Deir al-Zour, Idlib, Binnish or elsewhere,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.

The majority of the council, including African, Asian and Islamic states, generally oppose “naming and shaming” countries. Influential members China, Russia, and Cuba have defended Syria at the council. Brazil, India and South Africa blocked strong action by the Security Council in New York.

“When the UN allows power politics to trump human rights, the Assad regime gets a free pass to commit mass murder in broad daylight,” said Neuer.

The NGO appeal also called on the council to hold the Syrian military and political leadership personally accountable for alleged “crimes against humanity.”

Click here for text of NGO appeal

UN Watch