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Human Rights Council Panel Bears Witness to Suffering of Syrian People
March 14, 2017

Statement of the United States of America Panel on the situation in Syria

As Delivered by William J. Mozdzierz
Head of the U.S. Delegation

Human Rights Council 34th session
Geneva, March 14, 2017

Thank you Mr. President.

The United States fully supports the Human Rights Council’s continued attention to the situation in Syria.  We welcome this opportunity to hear from people impacted by the conflict and we applaud your bravery in sharing your experiences.

This month marks the six-year anniversary of the first peaceful demonstrations by Syrians seeking dignity, freedom, and a say in how they are governed.  This panel represents the spirit and hope of that movement.  Through their work, these panelists bear witness to the suffering of the Syrian people and give hope for a just and peaceful end to the conflict.

Numerous reports detail the horrors of the Asad regime’s detention centers, including forced disappearances and the torture many endure once detained.  These analyses stretch back to the beginning of the conflict.

Last month, Amnesty International published a chilling account of the Sadnaya detention facility and the machinery of Asad’s ruthless policy to dehumanize the Syrian people.

Amnesty reports that the regime hanged nearly 13,000 people at the prison following trials that lasted mere minutes and failed to come close to minimal international standards.  Similarly, reports by the Commission of Inquiry illustrate systematic patterns of mass arrests and enforced disappearances, as well as deaths of detainees due to torture and other inhumane treatment.  The COI has also reported on serious abuses in detention facilities run by pro-government, armed opposition, and extremist groups.

The United States reiterates our call for all parties in Syria, and the regime in particular, to halt summary executions, grant unhindered access to an impartial international organization to detention centers, evacuate medical detainees to civilian hospitals, and notify families of the status of their family members.

We also call for accountability for all perpetrators of violations and abuses.  We are grateful to the panelists for their courageous efforts and willingness to address the Council.

Finally, we want to ask the panelists how the international community can best support your efforts.

(end statement)