UN inquiry launched into Syrian deaths

The Human Rights Council in Geneva has condemned Syria's use of force against peaceful protestors and launched a probe into the deaths of hundreds of demonstrators.

This content was published on April 29, 2011 - 18:22 and agencies

Switzerland had backed the calls by western nations for the inquiry during a special session of the United Nations’ top human rights body on Friday on the situation in Syria.

In arguing the need for an inquiry, officials said the killings of more than 450 people during protests may include crimes against humanity.

The 47-member forum endorsed a United States-sponsored resolution by 26 votes to nine, with seven abstentions. Five delegations - including Jordan, Qatar and Bahrain - were absent for the vote.

Switzerland told the meeting it was “extremely concerned” by the actions of Syrian security forces towards non-violent protestors and civilians and “deplores the hundreds of deaths and injuries”.

It called on the Syrian authorities to respect citizens' human rights and urged the creation of an independent and impartial inquiry into the killings.

It was the second such special session called by the Council to discuss a specific state. The first such gathering in February focussed on Libya.

The UN human rights deputy chief Kyung-wha Kang said the Syrian government risked creating a “downward spiral of anger, violence, killings and chaos" with tactics such as ordering artillery to fire on peaceful pro-democracy protesters and snipers to shoot people trying to help the injured. She said around 1,800 people have been injured in Syria.

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