Syrian Government Policy of Enforced Disappearance a Crime Against Humanity: UN Investigators

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Dec. 19, 2013 – The Syrian government is continuing its policy of enforced disappearance that started in March 2011 when protests against the regime of Bashar Al-Assad erupted and the spread and pattern of this abuse amounts to a crime against humanity, UN investigators probing human rights violations in Syria concluded in their latest report.

Enforced disappearance has been used to silence the opposition, as a form of reprisal or punishment and as a tactic of war, the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry said in the report released on Thursday which covers March 2011 to Nov. 2013.

It cites instances of doctors being disappeared for providing medical services in oppositions controlled areas and injured civilians in FSA-controlled areas being disappeared when they seek treatment at government hospitals.

“The violation of enforced disappearance is often a gateway to the commission of other offences, most particularly torture,” the report says.

It adds that there is a deliberate government policy of not providing information to family members of those detained and those inquiring are often themselves then detained.

“The truth regarding the fate of the many disappeared in Syria and the extent of the phenomenon of enforced disappearance will likely only fully be grasped in the aftermath of the conflict,” the report says. “The victims of this violation number far beyond the individuals disappeared. The families and loved ones of those disappeared endure a mental anguish that amounts to a further violation of their human rights.”

“There are reasonable grounds to believe that enforced disappearances were committed by Government forces, as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population, and therefore amount to a crime against humanity,” the report concludes.

The full report is here

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

UN Inspectors Confirm Chemical Weapons Use in Syria

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Dec 12, 2013 – UN inspectors investigating allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria issued their final report on Thursday confirming use of chemical weapons in Syria in one “clear and convincing” case and reported on four more cases where there is credible evidence that chemical attacks took place.

The team investigated seven sites and concluded that sarin gas was used in the Aug. 21 incident in Ghouta, ”against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale.” The inspectors had previously confirmed this on Sept. 16. In four more incidents, including an attack in Khan Al Asal in March, the investigators collected evidence that ‘suggests” is “credible” or is “consistent with” the use of chemical weapons.

The full report is below.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

(photo/OPCW)

Final Report of UN Inspectors Investigating Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria.

Early UNSC Challenge for Newcomers Jordan and Lithuania, a Female Presidency Three-Peat and World Cup Draw Produces Council Battles

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Jordan’s FM Nasser Judeh congratulated following his country’s election to a two-year term on the Security Council. (UN Photo/Amanda Voisard)

Dec. 6, 2013 – Jordan’s election to a two-year term on the Security Council on Friday sees them with less than a month to get ready to assume the council’s presidency on January 1 when the Hashemite Kingdom, filling the spot vacated by Saudi Arabia in October, takes over the alphabetically rotating mantle from current holders France.

Jordan’s UN ambassador, Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad, served with the United Nations Protection Force in the former Yugoslavia in the mid-1990s and was also a candidate for secretary-general in 2006.

Lithuania, the first Baltic country to be elected to a non-permanent seat on the 15-nation body, take over the reins on February 1.

The country’s UN ambassador, Raimonda Murmokaite, will preside over the beginning of an unprecedented three-month span when the council will be headed by female ambassadors. Her presidency will be followed by that of Luxembourg’s Sylvie Lucas in March who will be succeeded by Nigeria’s Joy Ugwu in April. Two other current council members are represented by female ambassadors, permanent member United States, represented by Samantha Power, and non-permanent member Argentina, represented by Maria Perceval.

Meanwhile, the 2014 World Cup draw on Friday saw eight current council members, along with the UK’s England, discover their fate in the group stages of the Brazil-hosted finals which begins in June. Non-permanent members Australia and Chile will battle in out in Group B alongside powerhouses Spain and the Netherlands, who contested the 2010 final.

Group F sees fellow non-permanent council members Argentina and Nigeria up against Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina, the latter are also both on the Security Council’s agenda.

Russia finds itself pitted against another non-permanent member, South Korea in Group H, along with Algeria and Belgium. England face Costa Rica, Italy and Uruguay in Group D, while France are up against Ecuador, Honduras and Switzerland in Group E and Group G sees the US face Germany, Ghana and Portugal.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz