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Human Rights Council, Geneva : UK Statement on UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, 18 March 2014

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UK Statement on UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria.

Thank you Mr. President.

Mr Pinheiro,

The UK thanks the Commission for its work. It is vital that you continue to collect evidence of violations and abuses of human rights, to ensure that those responsible are held to account. The Syrian authorities’ refusal to grant access to the Commission, which has been mandated to investigate all parties, demonstrates how little respect President Assad has for the human rights of the Syrian people.

We are especially appalled by the level of sexual violence committed against men, women and children, particularly in regime detention centres. We support your call to the UN Security Council to seek a referral to the International Criminal Court.

UN Security Council resolution 2139 called on all parties, and ‘in particular the Syrian authorities’, to allow the unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid. The UK welcomed the unanimous vote in favour of this resolution and we want to see its rapid and full implementation. Your report, however, confirms again the regime’s contempt for international law, through its arbitrary denial of humanitarian access and the deliberate and shocking use of ‘starvation until submission’.

The UK condemns all violations and abuses of human rights. Your report notes that horrific crimes are being committed by both the regime and non-state armed groups. The evidence you present highlights that the worst atrocities, including the widespread detention and torture of civilians, have been carried out by regime forces or by extremist groups, some of whom have links to the Assad regime.

The Commission has differentiated between extremist groups and other armed opposition groups, who are calling for a pluralist and democratic Syria. The UK will continue to support the pursuit of that aim.

The Syrian conflict has no military solution. The UK remains committed to the Geneva II process and calls on the regime to accept Mr Brahimi’s agenda for talks. The National Coalition have shown their commitment. It is now time for the Syrian government to engage seriously in negotiations to bring an end to Syria’s suffering.

We call on all UN member states to join us in supporting a strong resolution demanding that the Commission be allowed unfettered access to Syria; that the regime and the extremists end their crimes against the Syrian people; and that all those responsible for violations and abuses of human rights are held to account.

Thank you.