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U.N. rights panel on Syria urges war crimes charges

GENEVA — The U.N. Security Council should refer Syria to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to prosecute those responsible for war crimes and other abuses committed in nearly two years of conflict, Carla del Ponte, a U.N. human rights investigator, said Monday.

Del Ponte, the former chief prosecutor for international tribunals on the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, spoke as the U.N. Human Rights Council commission investigating Syria, of which she is a member, said violence in Syria was worsening. It said the conflict was also "becoming more militarized because of the proliferation of weapons and types of weapons used."

The panel's 131-page report detailing evidence of war crimes and other abuses in the six months to mid January said, "The issue of accountability for those responsible for international crimes deserves to be raised in a more robust manner to counter the pervasive sense of impunity in the country."

The top U.N. human rights official, Navi Pillay, has also urged that Syria be referred to the International Criminal Court. Authority to make such a referral, however, lies with the Security Council or the country concerned.

In their report, based on 445 interviews, the investigators said they found credible evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by both government and opposition forces. The report cited accounts of massacres, summary executions, torture, attacks by armed groups on civilians, sexual violence and abuses against children.

No weapons: European Union foreign ministers decided against providing weapons to Syrian rebels despite objections by Britain. They expressed fears that more arms would only lead to more bloodshed in a conflict that has taken nearly 70,000 lives.

A woman washes clothes Monday in a camp for displaced people in Syria. Fighting there has killed nearly 70,000.

Associated Press

A woman washes clothes Monday in a camp for displaced people in Syria. Fighting there has killed nearly 70,000.

U.N. rights panel on Syria urges war crimes charges 02/18/13 [Last modified: Monday, February 18, 2013 10:53pm]
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