Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Ban urges Syrian leader to take decisive action to stop civilian deaths

17 October 2011 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged Syrian President Bashar-Al Assad to take decisive action and accept the Human Rights Council’s commission of inquiry into the violence in his country to find out exactly what happened and to put an end to civilian deaths.

Speaking at a press encounter in Geneva, Switzerland where he is on an official visit, Mr. Ban said Mr. Assad needs to implement political reforms before it is too late.

“It is a totally unacceptable situation that more than 3,000 people have been killed… That must stop. To enable such kind of transition, [Mr. Assad] must be able to agree and to engage in dialogue, as he had pledged before,” he said.

The Human Rights Council ordered a commission of inquiry last month into the violence after an earlier fact-finding mission by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) outlined a series of abuses committed by Syrian authorities, ranging from murders, enforced disappearances, the deprivation of liberty, and torture since the Government began its crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in March.

Mr. Ban said that accepting the Council’s commission of inquiry would be an opportunity for the Government to make its position clear to the international community and not isolate itself, particularly since Syrian authorities have stated that a large number of casualties were members of the security forces.

“Whatever the case may be, both by civilians or by national forces, the killing of people is not acceptable,” Mr. Ban said.

Last week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also urged the international community to act immediately to protect lives in the country from the “indiscriminate use of force” by the Government against protesters.

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