U.N. Rights Council condemns "gross" violations in Syria

GENEVA Fri Dec 2, 2011 11:25pm IST

Overview of the Human Rights Council special session on the situation in Syria at the United Nations in Geneva December 2, 2011. Picture taken with a fisheye lens. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Overview of the Human Rights Council special session on the situation in Syria at the United Nations in Geneva December 2, 2011. Picture taken with a fisheye lens.

Credit: Reuters/Denis Balibouse

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GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations top human rights forum strongly condemned Syria on Friday for "gross and systematic" violations by its forces, including executions, it said may amount to crimes against humanity.

The 47-member forum adopted a resolution put forward by the European Union by a vote of 37 states in favour and four against including China and Russia, with six abstentions.

The text called for the "main bodies" of the U.N. to consider a U.N. report which found that crimes of humanity had been committed and "take appropriate action".

It also established the new post of a special human rights investigator on Syria.

Syria's ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui, denounced the resolution as "politicised" and aimed at "closing the doors". He urged countries to vote against it.

The United States, which voted in favour, welcomed the result at the third special session held on Syria this year.

"We've set the stage in a very substantive way for strong action by the U.N. if other entities choose to take the opportunity," U.S. ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe told Reuters.

"The evidence we have seen leaves no doubt about the complicity of Syrian authorities and provides a very strong basis for accountability to go forward in other institutions where that is their mandate."

Asked whether this meant the International Criminal Court, she replied: "Absolutely, including the ICC if the Security Council chooses to refer this matter."

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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