Vienna, June 13, 2012: “I am deeply shocked by the latest report of the UN Secretary General on children and armed conflicts. According to this source children in Syria are not only being tortured and abused, but the regime is also using them with full intention as human shields”, Austrian Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said in a first reaction. “Only days after the harrowing reports of the massacre of civilians in Syrian towns and cities we are presented with this latest proof that all the limits of humanity have been broken in Syria. Instead of protecting its own population, the Syrian regime is becoming ever more ruthless and clearly has no scruples whatsoever, even about attacking children”.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that human rights infringements in Syria have reached such enormity that the involvement of the International Criminal Court is now essential. The international community simply cannot stand by and accept that crimes of this gravity are being committed without the least consequence for those who have given the orders”, Spindelegger said. “The first important step will have been taken with the documentation of these crimes, but the issue is now in the hands of the UN Security Council. It is my hope that in the face of these shocking reports there will be no further delays and that the International Criminal Court will be called in, a measure I appealed for some weeks ago, and that at all events further firm steps will be taken against the Syrian regime.”
The report, which was presented last night in New York, is concerned exclusively with information gathered by the UN since March 2011 and which has been checked, in particular, by an investigatory mission of special envoys for children and armed conflicts in the region. Interviews with survivors and other witnesses have revealed that children – some still only of primary school age – have been the victims of murder and mutilation, random arrest and imprisonment, as also torture, physical abuse and sexual violence. It is also reported that the Syrian army, the secret service and the Shabbiha militia which is loyal to the government are using schools as military bases, illegal detention and torture centres and as positions for snipers.
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