The Maldives, European Union (EU), United States (US) and Arab League have convened a UN Emergency Session on human rights in Syria. The session is taking place at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The Maldives was named one of the seven most important countries on the UN Human Rights Council earlier this year.
A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed the Maldives played a key role in convening the session, which addressed the killing of thousands of Muslim civilians by Syrian security forces since the its Arab Spring began earlier this year.
The Maldives has also expressed full support for measures taken by the Arab League against Syria, which include economic sanctions.
The BBC today reported that Syria’s government said the League’s proposal to allow observers into the country placed “impossible conditions” on Damascus and infringed on Syria’s sovereignty.
The session in Geneva included a report by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, which revealed “widespread evidence of gross and systemic human rights violations in the country.
“The conclusion of the Commission of Inquiry is that these violations amount to crimes against humanity, and thus necessitate referral to the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court,” read the statement.
Addressing the session, Maldives’ Ambassador Iruthisham Adam accused President Bashar al-Assad’s government for missing “numerous opportunities to respond to the protests with dialogue and reform”, instead choosing repression, the statement claimed.
Adam further noted that Syrian authorities had rejected “numerous international efforts to mediate” by various bodies including the UN and the Arab League.
Adam concluded that the crimes committed constituted crimes against humanity, and therefore the international community would be expected to take further measures to protect the civilian population.
According to a UN estimate, 4,000 civilians have been killed since March. November was the deadliest month with nearly 950 casualties. Protestors acted peacefully until recently, when reports indicate that activists and civilians took arms against Syrian officials.
The Maldives has objected to Syria’s state-sponsored violence for several months. In August, Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem firmly declared, “the time for promises is over – it is now time for action.”
More recently, 11 Syrian nationals were detained attempting to get into Germany and Switzerland via Maldives with forged Turkish passports. The government has pledged not to deport them to Syria, and is awaiting the family’s resolution.
While the Maldives supports international pressure during Syria’s unrest, it also backs Sri Lanka’s preference for privacy post facto. Amidst rising demand for an international investigation into Sri Lanka’s human rights violations at the end of its civil war, President Mohamed Nasheed voiced support for an internal investigation.
“We must understand that a number of very, very bad things happened but we must be able to move forward,” Nasheed said previously, distinguishing between investigating past abuses and supporting ongoing violations.
Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed previously spoke to Minivan News on the subject.
“You can’t have reconciliation and long-lasting peace unless you respect human rights and set up mechanisms to do so,” he said. “But we should steer clear of politicisation, or the divisions that have kept the flame of terrorism alive in Sri Lanka for so long. We are saying let Sri Lanka find a way forward and achieve reconciliation – we are not saying we don’t care about the past.”
Sri Lanka’s LLRC report was presented to the President on November 15, and to Parliament on November 20. Its findings have not yet been made public.
Meanwhile, the UN Emergency Session in Geneva adopted a new resolution to increase international pressure on Syria by citing crimes against humanity. It will refer the matter to relevant UN bodies in New York and will establish a UN Special Rapporteur on Syria.