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Syria: NGOs letter to Security Council calls for 'rapid reaction' human rights monitors

UN monitors must have access to all detention centres and political prisoners in the country

Amnesty International and three other NGOs have today called on the United Nations Security Council to renew the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) and to ensure that it retains a strong human rights mandate when the Security Council discusses the future of the mission next week (18 July).

In a joint open letter sent today to the ambassadors of all 15 Security Council members, Amnesty - together with the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Human Rights Watch and the International Federation for Human Rights - said the resolution renewing the mission should include a “strong and adequately staffed human rights component, providing the mission with sufficient expertise, including gender and Children's rights’s rights experts, and equipment to document and report on crimes against humanity, war crimes and other grave human rights abuses committed by all sides”. Read the full letter (pdf)

It also insists that “UN human rights monitors should have a rapid reaction capability to investigate specific incidents and a permanent presence in a few cities outside Damascus”. “Moreover”, the letter adds, “such staff need adequate protection and support - both internationally and locally - in order to pursue their work effectively”.

The human rights organisations are also calling on the Security Council to demand that Syria grant full access to UNSMIS monitors and to the Independent International Commission of Inquiry, including full and without-notice access to all detention centres - acknowledged and unacknowledged - as well as unconditional access to political prisoners at all times. The organisations insist that UNSMIS regularly and publicly publish its findings on human rights violations.

In the letter the four organisations also reiterate their long-standing call for the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.

Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Director Philip Luther said:

“Next week’s Security Council discussions provide an opportunity to revisit and improve the mandate of the UN mission in Syria, and to allow it to better address the human rights crisis in the country.

“The Security Council’s members must grasp this opportunity to stop the spiral of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Syria and also put in place strong measures to ensure justice, truth and full reparation for victims.”

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