UN panel of experts to probe Syrian violence
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The United Nations Human Rights Council has appointed a panel of three experts to investigate alleged abuses in Syria, where some 2,600 people have reportedly been killed since the Syrian government’s crackdown on protestors earlier this year.
Brazil’s Sergio Pinheiro will chair the independent commission of inquiry to probe into alleged violations of international human rights law in Syria since March, when the pro-democracy protests began,the Council said in a statement on Tuesaday.
Pinheiro is a former professor and human rights expert for the Council. His two colleagues are Yakin Ertürk, a Turkish professor of Sociology and former UN official expert in women’s issues, and Karen AbuZayd of the United States, who recently headed the UN agency assisting Palestinian refugees.
The Geneva-based Council decided three weeks ago to dispatch a commission of inquiry to Syria after considering the report of a fact-finding mission by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The report presented a succession of government abuses ranging from murder, enforced disappearances, deprivation of liberty and child torture to an apparent “shoot-to-kill” policy against protesters by snipers posted on rooftops.
According to reliable sources, the number of victims killed since the unrest began in March has now reached at least 2,600, OHCHR High Commissioner Navi Pillay told the 47-member body at the opening of the Council’s 18th session on Tuesday.
The commission is also tasked with establishing the facts and circumstances of the violations and crimes committed, and where possible, to identify the persons responsible for the atrocities so that they can be held accountable.
The panel has been tasked to present its findings to the Human Rights Council as soon as possible, but no later than the end of November.