"Horrifying" crimes continue despite Syria ceasefire, UN inquiry says

The fragile ceasefire in Syria should not obscure the fact that thousands of Syrians are still suffering from serious human rights crimes every day, a panel of UN rights investigators said Tuesday.

"Thousands are detained and tortured, many dying in places of detention," said Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, chairman of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria.

In addition, the Islamic State group was continuing to explode suicide bombs outside of areas that they control, he reported at a session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

"Particularly horrifying is its continued sexual enslavement of Yazidi women and girls, over 3,000 of whom are still held by the terrorist group," he added.

Pinheiro also pointed to indiscriminate attacks on civilians by the al-Nusra front, al-Qaeda's Syrian branch, as well as to "countless" people who remain missing across Syria as the conflict enters into its sixth year this week.

The Commission of Inquiry not only reiterated its call for criminal proceedings against human rights violators on all sides of the war, but also for measures that should be taken now.

These include immediate release of prisoners, international monitoring of detention centres, and setting up mechanisms to deal with missing persons.

"The adoption of measures that lay the ground for accountability need not and should not wait for a final peace agreement to be reached," Pinheiro said.

As the UN rights body was meeting, UN-brokered Syrian peace consultations entered their second day in Geneva.

The United Nations want government and opposition negotiators to agree on a plan for political transition over the coming weeks, but both sides remain far apart over defining the political future of President Bashar al-Assad.

Last update: Tue, 15/03/2016 - 11:38

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