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States Call on Syria to Uphold Human Rights at Universal Periodic Review

Joint Statement: The Center for Economic and Social Rights and the Arab NGO Network for Development

After severalspecial sessions of the Human Rights Council on the situation of humanrights in the Syrian Arab Republic, Syria???s human rights conditions were onceagain reviewed on Friday, October 7, 2011 at the 12th Session ofthe Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council amongst a highlypolarized and politically-charged backdrop.

The Syrian people???s demands for dignity and democraticchange stem from longstanding deprivations of basic economic and social rights,such as the right to work, the right to education, the right to social securityand the right to an adequate standard of living, coupled with the systemicdenial of political freedoms that have curtailed the Syrian people???s ability tohave a voice in decisions that affect their lives, as highlighted in a joint submission by ANND andCESR in March 2011 presented to the Human Rights Council on the occasion ofSyria???s UPR.

Rather than taking advantage of the UPR as an opportunity tobegin a dialogue on the deteriorating human rights situation in the country???possiblyamounting to crimes against humanity???the Syrian Delegation chose to instead shiftblame to ???imperialist powers??? and ???extremist terrorist groups??? to explain thecurrent turmoil in the country. The opening paragraph of the NationalReport???whose translation to the UN official languages was submitted toolate for many state delegations to read in advance???makes strong accusationsagainst the international media and ???certain Western states??? for spreading orsupporting deliberate campaigns of ???lies and allegations??? against the State inorder to weaken its political stability and national unity. The Syriangovernment???s long-standing neglect of the human rights aspirations of its ownpeople was thus reflected during the October 7th UPR session.

At its review, the Syrian delegation restated the relevantarticles of the Constitution with respect to promotion and protection of humanrights, also noting several recent and imminent reforms. Some of these includethe lifting of the State of Emergency, a forthcoming comprehensive nationaldialogue, the approval of municipal elections in December of this year as partof a new electoral law, the granting of citizenship to members of the Kurdishethnic minority and the allowance of political parties and greater mediafreedoms Furthermore the delegation went on to state that with these reformsSyria would serve as a ???model democracy not only for the region but for theworld.???

Other State delegations reviewing Syria???s recent humanrights record echoed many of civil society???s demands: to immediately cease theexcessive and disproportionate use of force against protestors, particularlyagainst women and children, without impunity; to grant the right to associationand freedom of expression: to stop arbitrary arrests and free detained humanrights defenders and prisoners of conscience; to investigate the human rightsatrocities that have occurred in the country and bring to justice thoseculpable and grant reparations to victims: to listen to the demands ofprotestors and allow for inclusive dialogue and participation; and to respectthe decisions of the Human Rights Council and authorize access into the countryof the independent Commission of Inquiry set up during the HRC???s recent specialsession on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic.

ANND and CESR welcome the opportunity presented by thereview of Syria under the UPR mechanism to consider the severe violations ofhuman rights in the country, where the estimated death toll currently stands at2900, according to latestfigures by the OHCHR. Both organizations urge the government of Syria toaccept the recommendations received at the UPR, and to dutifully implement andoperationalize these as a sign of commitment to respecting, protecting andfulfilling the human rights of its people.

For further information, please contact:
Luke Holland
Communications Coordinator
Center for Economic and Social Rights
+34.687.317.139 /