Last updated: 8 April, 2014

Regime to blame for most Syria abuses, says UN rights chief

Syria must be held accountable for abuses against its people and those responsible should be hauled before the International Criminal Court, UN rights chief Navi Pillay said Tuesday.

“Criminal justice must be seized. The UN Security Council must be able to unite around the simple idea that terrible crimes have been committed and that they must be punished,” Pillay told reporters in New York.

“There has to be justice and accountability and the situation in Syria should not be allowed to slip through the cracks.”

The three-year conflict has killed more than 150,000 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, while half the country’s population is estimated to have fled their homes.

Pillay acknowledged that neither rebels nor the Syrian government was blameless when it comes to rights violations, but that nevertheless “you cannot compare the two sides.”

“It is the government that is mostly responsible for the violations and all these perpetrators should be identified (for)… referral to the ICC (International Criminal Court),” she said.

The conflict in Syria began in March 2011 with protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

After a government crackdown on dissent, some of the opposition took up arms and the conflict has spiraled into a bloody civil war.

Pillay said that the process of bringing Syrian officials to justice need not be affected by peacemaking efforts that have so far resulted in two rounds of talks in Switzerland but no concrete moves toward ending the conflict.

“It is a parallel process, you cannot just negociate peace,” Pillay said. “You have to have justice.”