Urgent Debate on Syria
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Statement by A u s t r i a
Austria would like to thank the High Commissioner for her grim update for this urgent debate. The human rights crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic continues to get worse. The suffering of civilians caused by the ruthless actions of Government forces has reached unimaginable proportions. Only yesterday 68 civilians have reportedly been brutally and arbitrarily killed by members of the Syrian Armed Forces. How many innocent women and children have died in indiscriminate attacks on residential areas? How many doctors have been tortured for providing medical assistance to protesters? How many journalists and bloggers have paid their courage with their blood? We call on President Assad to immediately end this assault on his own people. All bloodshed must stop.
Humanitarian actors urgently need full access to the suffering population, including many internally displaced people. We call on the Syrian authorities to allow humanitarian organizations to access hospitals and prisons and to provide humanitarian and human rights institutions all available information on the fate of all persons detained. Medicine, food and other essential supplies have to be available to all Syrians, regardless of whether they are perceived to support the opposition forces. Attacks on medical facilities must stop.
Austria is dismayed about the findings of the Commission of Inquiry, recently published in their updated report. Since November, when we last met to discuss the situation in Syria, government forces have (I quote) “committed more widespread, systematic and gross human rights violations”. These violations amount to crimes against humanity. We urge the Security Council to overcome its paralysis and take action as soon as possible and we repeat our call on the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. Individual criminal responsibility must be established. We cannot accept impunity for these violations.
Faced with the gross failure of the Syrian authorities to assume its basic obligations under international law, the international community is taking action. Austria fully supports this action. We have supported all three special sessions on the situation in Syria and have co-sponsored the recent resolution in the General Assembly. We welcome the efforts by the Arab League to find a peaceful solution to the crisis and we welcome the recent appointment of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan as special envoy of the UN and the Arab League. We call on the High Commissioner and the Commission of Inquiry to continue monitoring the human rights situation and reporting to the Council and the GA with a view to ensuring that perpetrators are held accountable. The Council needs to remain seized of the situation in Syria until the situation significantly improves.
I thank you.