Vienna, 2 December 2011 Press release

Spindelegger on Syria: “Crimes against humanity must be prosecuted”

UN Human Rights Council condemns Syria in special session

Vienna, 2 December 2011 – At the special session of the UN Human Rights Council which was convened at the initiative of the European Union and the Arab states, a resolution was adopted which contains a clear message to Syria. The Human Rights Council urgently calls upon the Syrian government to put a halt to the brutal repression of its own population without delay and sharply condemns the complete impunity in the event of human rights violations.

The resolution is based on a report issued by a three-member investigation commission which was established by the Human Rights Council back in August. According to this report, repeated human rights violations have been committed. “I am deeply upset about the cruelties committed by Syrian security forces who do not shrink from shooting people, committing torture and applying sexual violence against the defenceless civilian population, including children,” stated Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger.

Spindelegger emphasised that Austria was therefore backing a complaint addressed to the International Criminal Court: “The world community cannot stand back and do nothing while the Syrian regime rides roughshod over the rights of its own population. Assad will be held to account for his actions.”

In the negotiations on the resolution, Austria advocated a sharp condemnation of violence against the civilian population as well as calling for respect for freedom of opinion and freedom of assembly. At Austria’s initiative, Syria is also called upon to put a halt to violence against journalists and the impairment of the free media which, with only a few exceptions, are forbidden to report from Syria.

The UN Human Rights Council was meeting for the third time this year to deal with the situation in Syria. This time, too, Syria was completely uncooperative and refused to cooperate with either the investigation commission of the Human Rights Council or the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Nevertheless, the Commission will continue its work and submit a further report in March.

Federal Ministry for
European and International Affairs
Press Department
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3262, 4549, 4550
Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213