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Geneva: Speech delivered by SNHR Director at the UN Human Rights Council in September 2013



United Nations Human Rights Council: 24th Session
Item 4: ID COI Syria: Oral Intervention
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
17 September, 2013
Delivered by: Fadel Abdul Ghany
Speech Transcript:
Thank you, Mr. President
The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network and the five undersigned Syrian human rights organizations wel-come the report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the Syri-an Republic.
The release of the report comes shortly after an unprecedented chemical assault was conducted on 21 August in the eastern outskirts of Damascus in “Al Ghouta”, re-sulting in the deaths of hundreds of civilians, including dozens of women and chil-dren. Evidence gathered by Syrian human rights organizations indicates that the Syrian government bears responsibility for this attack. Such a large-scale use of chemical lethal agents against a civilian-populated area undoubtedly constitutes a crime against humanity of the highest order.
However, the highly restricted focus of international debates on the use of chemical weapons in Syria risks obscuring the reality on the ground. This reality continues to be one of daily and almost unimaginable suffering for millions of Syrians, due pri-marily to a government that has resorted to waging war against its own citizens and an international community unwilling or unable to ensure a credible process of ac-countability for crimes against humanity, including indiscriminate shelling, sum-mary executions, widespread torture, arbitrary detention, rape and enforced disap-pearances – all of which continue and must once again be brought to the center of this Council’s attention.
Tens of thousands of political prisoners, including human rights activists and law-yers, aid workers, journalists, and peaceful citizens are still routinely subjected to ill-treatment and torture in governmental detention facilities, such as the central prisons in Homs and Aleppo and all secret detention centers throughout Syria. The wide-spread use of sexual violence as a weapon of war to terrorize and punish women and their communities is one of the reasons millions have fled the country and sought refuge in exile or find themselves internally displaced.

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