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Human Rights Council – 22nd Regular Session
Interactive dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Syria
11 March 2013
Australia is deeply concerned by the ongoing conflict in Syria, which has claimed more than 70,000 lives and forced over 1 million Syrians to flee to neighbouring countries.
We condemn the ongoing brutality of the Syrian government against its people, including the recent escalation of Scud missile attacks on civilian neighbourhoods, which have resulted in large numbers of civilian casualties.
Australia supports the call for effective mechanisms to monitor and ensure accountability for the serious violations of international criminal, humanitarian and human rights law taking place in Syria.
In this context we support the work of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry for Syria, which has found overwhelming evidence of human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity. These include murder, torture, rape and enforced disappearance, as well as attacking protected objects and pillaging and destruction of property.
Reports of sexual violence against men and women in detention centres, and abduction and rape of women and girls by government forces and militia are particularly disturbing.
Australia is appalled by the violations of children’s rights in Syria, including detention and torture, and the recruitment and use of child soldiers by both pro and anti-government armed groups.
Australia is particularly concerned by ongoing attacks against medical workers and facilities and the difficulties faced by the sick and wounded in accessing medical care. Over half of Syria’s public hospitals have been damaged and 80 per cent of ambulances have been destroyed. More than 140 medical workers have been killed, injured or abducted. Australia has been working to promote medical protection and access in Syria, and urges all parties to the conflict to protect and respect medical personnel and facilities, and to not block access to medical care.
The Independent International Commission of Inquiry for Syria has concluded that both parties to the conflict have committed human rights abuses and war crimes, though we note the Commission’s findings that violations committed by anti-government forces did not reach the scale of those committed by government forces and militia. Australia calls on all parties to the conflict to respect international human rights and humanitarian law.