Entries in Human Rights Council (5)


Reports Calls Conflict in Syria Mostly Sectarian

Scott Peterson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Sectarian violence now dominates Syria 21 months after President Bashar al-Assad began cracking down on activists supporting democratic reform.

A report released by a committee from the United Nations Human Rights Council claims that the conflict has spun so far out of control since March 2011 that it is now "overtly sectarian in nature."

Speaking for the panel, human rights investigator Paulo Pinheiro alleged that non-stop warfare between al-Assad's military and rebel forces has compelled entire communities to take up arms.  In many cases, groups that weren't even involved in the initial conflict have formed their own militias.

According to the report, "Feeling threatened and under attack, ethnic and religious minority groups have increasingly aligned themselves with parties to the conflict, deepening sectarian divides."

The sectarian groups mainly involved in the fighting are the minority Alawite sect, which sides with al-Assad, and its direct opponent, the Sunni Muslim majority.  However, Armenians, Christians, Druze, Palestinians, Kurds and Turkmens are now involved, whether willingly or not.

Further complicating the situation are foreign fighters from neighboring Middle Eastern and North African nations who mostly support the rebel Free Syrian Army while the militant Islamic group Hezzbolah has provided soldiers from Lebanon to assist al-Assad.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


UN Blames Syria for Hundreds of Children's Deaths

KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- The United Nations has accused Syria of crimes against humanity that include the killing and torture of children during its eight-month crackdown on pro-democracy activists.

According to an investigation by the U.N. Human Rights Council, at least 256 youngsters have died as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad keeps trying to hold onto power.

The report listed an incident of a two-year-old girl who was allegedly shot dead by a soldier so that she wouldn't grow up to be a protester.  Meanwhile, some boys were reported to have been sexually tortured in front of adult men.

Independent sources have listed more than 3,500 fatalities since mid-March, although the number could be much higher.

The Human Rights Council said the government gave "shoot to kill" orders to halt protests throughout the country as troops "shot indiscriminately at unarmed protesters" and snipers aimed at the head or upper body of civilians.

This latest condemnation of Syria comes just a day after the Arab League slapped Damascus with sweeping sanctions that could further cripple the already ailing economy.  Since 60 percent of Syria's exports go directly to Arab neighbors, if the governments stand firm, they could force al-Assad into halting the violent crackdown that threatens to further destabilize the Middle East.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


United Nations Votes on Resolution for Global Gay Rights

Comstock/Thinkstock(GENEVA) -- The United Nations Human Rights Council approved a historic resolution on Friday that recognizes and calls for gay rights around the world.

The measure was passed with 23 votes in favor, 19 against and three abstentions.  It was introduced by South Africa and met with opposition from Arab and African countries.

The Obama administration is touting this as evidence of its leadership on an international body that was known more for its blanket criticism of Israel before the U.S. joined in 2009.

The draft resolution, provided to ABC News by a State Department official ahead of the vote, does little more than recognize universal rights and express concern about reports of discrimination, but such a measure would have been unthinkable just a short time ago when countries like Iran used the council to pursue their agenda.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Clinton Speaks on New Syria Sanctions; Lauds Human Rights Council

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Accompanied by visiting Japanese foreign minister Takeaki Matsumoto, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once again on Friday called for the Syrian government to stop the violent crackdown on protests and said the Syrian government will be held accountable.
Clinton said the U.S. sanctions imposed Friday are meant to show the Syrian government that  “its behavior and actions are going to be held accountable.”

The U.S. continues to condemn “the absolutely deplorable actions” they’ve used  “in the strongest possible terms."  She said the message that the violence “must end immediately” is a one that has been conveyed bilaterally and multilaterally “to make it absolutely clear” what is expected of the Syrian government.
Clinton welcomed the UN Human Rights Council’s call Friday to launch an investigation in Syria to look at human rights violations resulting from the tough crackdown.  She praised the council for setting a precedent to launch an urgent investigation into accusations of violations of international law.  She also said the goal of the investigation would be to bring any violators of international law to justice.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


UN Calls for 'Mass Evacuation' of Libyan Refugees

Photo Courtesy - U.S. Department of State(NEW YORK) -- The United Nations called for the mass evacuation of people escaping Libya for Tunisia, the BBC reports. 

The UN reported that nearly 75,000 people have left for Tunisia since social and political disruption began in Libya and 40,000 more are still waiting for entry.

The UN High Committee for Refugees is calling for governments to pull together resources in a "massive humanitarian evacuation" of the thousands of individuals now stranded in the midst of the great exodus from Libya. 

Now that Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi has refused to leave, despite opposition to his decades-long rule, the UN has voted to suspend the nation from its Human Rights Council.  The organization justified its decision citing "gross and systemic violation of human rights," according to the BBC report.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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