In the morning of Tuesday, March 15, 2016, five years after the beginning of the Syrian revolution, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, chaired by Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, presented its findings based on investigations from 10 July 2015 to 10 January 2016 in the context of the 31st session of the Human Rights Council.
In the beginning Mr. Pinheiro summed up the horrible consequences the armed conflicts in Syria had and have on the Syrian population. The whole report can be found here.
Following his presentation, the Syrian representative held the floor and objected the report calling it a “selective approach” based on “false testimonies” and a “political cover to terrorism”. “Terrorism” is the term the Syrian regime tries to impose on the opposition to justify attacks, suppression and murder by the regime. Concerning that attempt, the Assad regime was not successful this morning.
First, a vast majority of the present representatives expressed their appreciation of the Commission’s report which documented a large number of human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law by the Syrian government and pro-government groups as well as by terrorist groups and revolutionary armed groups.
Second, nearly all commenting states demanded to hold human rights violators accountable before the International Criminal Court. In particular regarding the Syrian government it was stressed that impunity is inacceptable.
Last but not least a number of spokespersons stressed that there is an urgent need to develop means to include women in the transitional phase for Syria in an effective and sustainable way.
By and large, the Geneva Office of the Kurdish National Council agrees on these three main conclusions of the plenary assembly. Nevertheless, there is an essential point to add: Neither the report nor the representatives of member-states addressed human rights violations by the PYD in the majority Kurdish areas of Syria in any detail. The Turkish representative was the only one to mention arbitrary arrests of civilians and the recruitment of minors by the YPG. This blank illustrates a weakness of the report which should be corrected in the future, as forced recruitment, the recruitment of children and the persecution of independent journalists, activists and members of oppositional political parties are human rights violations regardless of the respective perpetrator.