General Assembly: Statement by Ambassador Wittig on Human Rights Situation in Syria

Jul 29, 2013

(Statement as delivered by Ambassador Wittig at the General Assembly Informal Plenary following the Briefing by the Chair of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Mr. Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro)

"Mr. President,

Germany would like to thank the Commission of Inquiry for their difficult and important work and Mr. Pinheiro for today’s briefing. Like our EU partners and many other States, we are deeply concerned about the latest findings of the Commission, about the ongoing widespread and gross violations and severe abuses of human rights in Syria: Systematic attacks against the civilian population, including murder, torture and rape become ever more evident. The use of indiscriminate shelling, aerial bombardment and ballistic missiles by Government forces are targeting civilians, schools and hospitals. Like a medieval conqueror, the regime lays siege to entire cities, denying access to medical relief in flagrant violation not only of human rights, but of basic humanity. This is the working of a Government that wants to become a member of the Human Rights Council.

We are also concerned by human rights abuses of non-state actors on both sides of the conflict, including recent violent acts committed by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party against peaceful demonstrations in the city of Amuda.

There must be no impunity for any such violations. When a State is unwilling or unable to address these violations, the situation should be referred to the ICC, as requested in a letter by 58 Member States to the Security Council of January 2013.

Mr. President,

We are also alarmed by the findings of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict during her visits to Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon: children continue to be recruited and abused as combatants and in auxiliary roles, to be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention, ill-treatment and torture on the suspicion of sympathizing with a party, to be denied their right to education, and remain particularly vulnerable to sexual violence. Of the 6.8 million people who have fled their homes since the beginning of the conflict, more than half are children. Syria is losing a generation of children and the longer this conflict drags on the worse the short and long-term consequences will become for children.

As the U.N. and other partners, Germany is contributing its share in alleviating the humanitarian plight in Syria and its neighboring countries. Germany is in the process of providing shelter to 5000 Syrians seeking refuge from the conflict. We urge all States to heed the appeal of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres to grant Syrian refugees swift and fair access to asylum procedures.

Mr. President,

The urgent need to find a political solution to the conflict is evident to all. In this light, we consider the reports on arbitrary arrest and detention of members of the opposition deeply worrisome, and urge all parties, especially the regime, to cease all activities that undermine a constructive and inclusive political solution to the conflict.

Thank you."

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Child Labor in Birma

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