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Human Rights Council 33, UK statement during the COI on Syria, 19 September 2016

UK statement during the Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic.

The Human Rights Council takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva
The Human Rights Council takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

The UK appreciates the Commission’s valuable work in highlighting the devastating human impact of the Syrian conflict. Humanitarian access has collapsed in recent months and violence continues to worsen. The Commission’s work in this context remains vital.

I note in particular the Commission’s finding that the regime and its backers have pursued “indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks” against opposition-held areas, and the increase in attacks on medical facilities and their staff over the last six months. In addition, there is clear evidence that Asad and Daesh have used chemical weapons to kill civilians. All of this shows once again the regime’s and Daesh’s callous disregard for human life. These attacks must end. The Commission’s work will play a crucial role in enabling those responsible to be held to account.

Away from the frontlines, massive and systematic violence takes place out of sight. The regime continues to use arbitrary arrest and illegal detention, and to mistreat thousands of Syrians. The UK has been clear that human rights violations and abuses in Syria are unacceptable and perpetrators must be held to account for their crimes. We urgently need to see the release of those arbitrarily detained, especially women and children; an end to brutal treatment of all detainees and full independent monitor access to detention centres and prisons.

We welcome the US-Russia deal announced on 9 September to restore the Cessation of Hostilities and call on all parties to support it.

The long-term solution lies in an enduring political settlement. The Syrian High Negotiations Committee - a broad range of political and armed opposition groups - has shown it is committed to a moderate political future for Syria and to defeating terrorism and extremism. We hope that this engagement, coupled with the restored Cessation of Hostilities, will enable the political track to resume.

Published 19 September 2016