UN alarmed by rise in disapperances in Syria

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed her alarm at the rise of abductions and disappearances in Syria.

UN alarmed by rise in disapperances in Syria

World Bulletin / News Desk

Syrians continue to fall victim to a callous indifference to human life and disregard for safety, exemplified by the increasing trend of abductions and enforced disappearances, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay warned Friday.

"In just the past few months, we have seen a significant and deeply alarming rise in abductions of human rights defenders, activists, journalists, religious figures and others by armed opposition groups, as well as the continuing arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances of individuals by government forces in Syria," Pillay said in a statement on Friday.

She cited an incident on December 9 when five masked gunmen reportedly stormed into a joint office for two human rights and humanitarian NGOs abducting award-winning Syrian human rights defender Razan Zaitouneh along with her husband, Wa’el Hamada who is a prominent activist and former political prisoner, and two other colleagues, Nazem Hamadi and Samira Khalil.

"Human rights defenders, humanitarian aid workers and activists take great personal risks on a daily basis to document human rights violations throughout Syria, and provide much-needed humanitarian aid to people, including those under siege," Pillay said.

"I urge all parties to the Syrian conflict to stop terrorising civilians through abduction, hostage-taking, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention, in clear violation of international human rights and humanitarian law.

"I call on all parties to the conflict to refrain from targeting civilians and to immediately release all those who are deprived of their liberty in violation of international law," said Pillay.

Pillay said, "The Government and armed groups have the obligation under international law to take all necessary steps to ensure that all civilians, including human rights defenders, are protected from any intimidation or violence as a result of their activities."

"Under international humanitarian law, attacks against journalists are strictly prohibited. Their work is indispensable in times of conflict and must be protected," Pillay said.

The high commissioner also expressed concern over the apparent abduction of 12 nuns from Maaloula and called for their immediate and unconditional release.

"The UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria has been documenting the increasing use of enforced disappearance as a strategy used by government and pro-government forces to stifle dissent and spread terror within society," the high commissioner said.

Pillay said "Families of these detainees have in many cases had no word about the whereabouts of their loved ones and do not know if they are dead or alive. Some families who reported a disappearance were themselves detained. This kind of terrorising of civilians must stop."

"I call upon all parties to the conflict to forego violence for diplomacy to achieve a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis, and to put an end to the bloodshed and suffering of all Syrians," Pillay said.

Last Mod: 14 Aralık 2013, 10:06
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