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Sat Nov 01 08:54:58 SAST 2014

'Probe Assad for war crimes'

Reuters | 18 February, 2013 00:25
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad
Image by: REUTERS TV / REUTERS

The UN human rights chief has said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should be investigated for war crimes and called for immediate action by the international community to end the killing, up to and including military intervention.

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, repeated her call for Assad to be referred to the International Criminal Court for the actions of his forces in the civil war, which the UN says has killed almost 70000 in 22 months of fighting.

Asked if Assad should be investigated for war crimes, she told Britain's Channel 4 News: "He's not but he should be.

"This is my strong call that I made 18 months ago. Based on the evidence, I said crimes against humanity and Syria's war crimes are being committed by President Assad's forces, his security forces, and other groups allied to him.

"There should be a referral by the Security Council to the International Criminal Court. I would describe [Assad's actions] as evidence of crimes against humanity, and war crimes against his own people."

World powers are divided on how to stop the war in Syria and the Security Council is unlikely to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which is not a UN body.

Permanent Security Council members Russia and China have acted as Syria's protector on the council by repeatedly blocking Western efforts to take stronger UN action - such as sanctions - against the Syrian government.

Pillay said the Security Council had a range of tools to keep warring sides apart to allow negotiations. She said urgent action was needed.

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