UN rights council to hold special session on Syria

AFP , Wednesday 27 Apr 2011

UN human rights council focuses it attention on Syria following the government's brutal and bloody crackdown on protesters calling for reform and regime change

The UN Human Rights Council will hold a special session on Syria on Friday, a UN spokesman said, amid alarm over the military's assault on the pro democracy stronghold of Daraa.

The special session "will be held on Friday 29 April at 11 am," said Cedric Sapey, spokesman at the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The request, filed by the United States, was jointly submitted by 10 European states, as well as Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Senegal and Zambia.

A military assault on the Syrian town has left at least 30 dead, according to rights activists, who also claim that around 400 people have been killed in a crackdown against anti-regime supporters across the country.

Diplomats were originally mulling a possible special session on the Middle East but Syrian authorities' recent move against demonstrators has prompted them to train their focus on the country.

"In view of the developments on the ground this weekend in Syria, we believe that the situation warrants specific attention," a western diplomat told AFP.

Traditional Syrian allies such as Russia, China, Cuba, as well as Islamic states like Malaysia and Pakistan are also members of the 47 member UN Human Rights Council, alongside other Arab states.

Rights activists said that Friday's hearing in Geneva would be a blow to Syria's candidacy for membership of the body.

In a document dated 1 March, Syria announced at the UN in New York its intention to seek membership for the term 2012 to 2014.

It said that its candidacy "signifies its commitment to respect and to support the inalienable and indivisible nature of all human rights."

The UN General Assembly in New York is expected to vote on new Council members in May.

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