Syrian death toll now at over 5,000: UN rights chief

Bashar-al Assad
United Nations, Dec 13: Over 5000 people have been killed in Syria's violent crackdown against protesters, the UN rights chief has told the Security Council, recommending that the regime of President Bashar-al Assad be referred to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay briefed the Security Council today in a closed door meeting here about the "rather shocking" human rights violations and continued loss of life in Syria during the nine-month long uprising. She said out of those killed, more than 300 were children.

Pillay said she had informed the Council in August that the bloody crackdown on civilians had claimed 2000 lives but in four months' time, the death toll has more than doubled.

"Today I reported that this number exceeds 5000 and the number of children killed is more than 300," Pillay later told reporters. She said the Syrian government's brutal crackdown on civilians, including the widespread and systematic nature of killings and torture of thousands in detention centres constitute crimes against humanity and "I recommended that there should be a referral to the International Criminal Court".

Pillay said her briefing was "taken very seriously and everyone (in the Council) said this level of violence has to stop".

Representatives of Britain, France, Germany, Portugal and the US later expressed concern over the deteriorating situation in Syria, saying UNSC's inaction regarding Assad's regime can no longer be an option. 


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