Wien, 13. July 2012 Press release

Spindelegger: “I call for urgent clarification about the use of cluster munitions in Syria”

Vienna, 13 July 2012 – Austrian Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger showed his deep concern in view of the latest Human Rights Watch reports about the alleged use of cluster munitions in the mountain regions around the city of Hama: “Cluster munitions are one of the most cruel and perfidious weapons and moreover are directed against civilians. Even decades after the end of a military conflict, these weapons kill and mutilate civilians. I call upon the Assad regime to provide clarification about the alleged use of cluster munitions forthwith. If these inhuman weapons have really been deployed their use must be stopped immediately.”

Human Rights Watch published first reports about the alleged use of cluster munitions in Syria on 12 July 2012. According to reports from rebels, the region around Hama has been bombarded for at least two weeks. Recently posted Internet videos show people handling unexploded cluster munitions.

The use of cluster munitions in armed conflicts is a blatant violation of humanitarian international law. Their large-scale use is a major threat for the civilian population in particular. Add to this that the high number of blind shells and their uncontrolled deployment violate the most fundamental human rights – the right to life and the right of physical integrity. The victims after the end of an armed conflict are frequently children who play with unexploded munitions they find. Mine clearing is dangerous, time- and cost intensive.

The international community of states proscribes and prohibits the deployment and production of cluster munitions in the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions. The treaty entered into force and has been signed by 111 states. “Even though Syria has not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the regime is still obliged to protect its own people”, Spindelegger said.

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