Interactive Dialogue on the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic
Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
28th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
March 17, 2015 – Geneva
We welcome the report by the Commission of Inquiry, which once again describes continued atrocities by the Asad regime. These appalling atrocities include what the COI characterizes as the regime’s systematic targeting of civilians, restriction of humanitarian assistance, torture, and the detention and disappearance of civilians. We call on the Syrian authorities to cease indiscriminate attacks and to release arbitrarily detained persons. We call on the authorities to grant humanitarian access to civilians in need of aid, including those living in areas under non-State armed group control. We call for Syria to grant access to international monitors, including the COI. We also call on the government to engage in dialogue leading to an inclusive and sustainable political transition.
Extremist groups, including Daesh and Al Nusra Front, also continue to commit widespread abuses including attacks against civilians and sexual violence against and exploitation of women and children. These abuses include kidnappings and targeted killings, especially aimed at members of religious and ethnic minorities and men accused of being gay.
The United States condemns atrocities committed by all sides. Four years after the start of the revolution, we reiterate that it is the Asad regime’s brutal suppression of democratic opposition forces and atrocities against civilians that allow terrorist groups like ISIL to grow.
Let us not forget the aims of the peaceful protest in March 2011, who called for the end of torture and demanded respect for human rights. We deplore the growing suffering and torture in detention centers throughout Syria, as the COI’s reports have depicted. The regime continues to unjustly imprison women, children, doctors, humanitarian aid workers, human rights defenders, journalists, and others. We are appalled by the torture, sexual violence, and inhumane conditions that these prisoners are suffering. We call for the immediate release of human rights defenders, including Mazen Darwish, head of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression. We also demand the release of human rights activists abducted by anti-government armed groups, including Razan Zeitouneh, who has played a critical role as the founder of the Violations Documentation Center.
The COI, despite denial of access, continues to provide critical reporting on the ongoing gross violations and abuses carried out by the regime, associated militias, and terrorist organizations that will be essential to holding those responsible accountable for their actions. The United States strongly supports the renewal of the COI’s mandate. We also recognize the COI has developed substantial information on a wide variety of human rights topics. We welcome any further reporting that the COI has the capacity to provide.
[NOTE: Time limit elapsed at this point and the following part of the prepared statement was not read in the Council]
We share the COI’s commitment to justice and encourage the COI to continue to share its information on human rights abuses within the UN to ensure its data is integrated into other UN efforts. We also applaud the courageous Syrian human rights defenders who, despite the grave risks, continue to document atrocities committed by all sides and share their findings with the international community.
We remain committed to a sustainable political solution in Syria consistent with the principles of the Geneva Communique that leads to a representative, inclusive government.
We note the COI’s recommendation for socio-psychological support, rehabilitation, and social integration for minorities and persons with disabilities. What are the COI’s recommendations for how the international community should provide support to the tens of thousands of political prisoners and torture survivors?
Thank you, Mr. President.