HRW urges Arabs to seek UN sanctions against Syria

AFP , Friday 20 Jan 2012

Human Rights Watch urges the Arab League to make its monitors' report to the public, saying that the mission had failed to stop the Damascus government's deadly crackdown

Human Rights Watch called Friday for the Arab League to publish a keenly awaited report on its much criticised observer mission to Syria and seek UN sanctions over the persistent bloodshed.

In an open letter to Arab foreign ministers ahead of a meeting on Sunday at which they are to decide whether to extend the mission for another month, the New-York based watchdog said the observers' presence had failed to stop the Damascus government's deadly crackdown on 10 months of protests.

"The Arab League should make its monitors' report public to address increasing concerns that its monitoring mission is being manipulated by the Syrian authorities," said HRW's Middle East director, Sarah Leah Whitson.

"Only a transparent assessment of the monitoring mission can determine whether the monitors should stay in the country."

The observers have been deployed since December 26 to monitor compliance with an agreement under which Damascus undertook to protect civilians, withdraw troops from population centres, free detainees and open negotiations with the opposition.

But HRW charged that their presence had failed to rein in the government's crackdown. It cited activists as saying security forces had killed 506 civilians since the mission's launch and detained a further 490 as of Wednesday.

"The Arab League should publicly recognise that Syria has not respected the League's plan and work with the Security Council to increase pressure on the authorities and effectively curtail the use of fire power," Whitson said.

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