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UN Syria commission calls for immediate ceasefire

Chairman of the United Nations (UN) Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Paulo Pinheiro on September 11, 2019 in Geneva [FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images]
Chairman of the United Nations (UN) Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Paulo Pinheiro on September 11, 2019 in Geneva [FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images]

The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said Monday its "overarching" recommendation is for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, endorsed by the Security Council and enforced by the key member states supporting the Assad regime and armed groups, reports Anadolu Agency.

The commission released a report to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) on March 11, focusing on people's disappearance and detentions in the 10-year conflict.

"Such a ceasefire must be genuine, and safeguards should be put into place to ensure that it is not simply used as a means to prepare for fresh offensives, but instead provides the space for Syrian-led negotiations and for the restoration of the basic human rights that have been so long denied," the commission said.

After 10 years of war, tens of thousands of civilians arbitrarily detained in Syria remain "forcibly disappeared," while thousands more have been "subject to torture, sexual violence or death in detention," the commission said.

READ: UNICEF calls for end to terrorist recruitment of children and abuse in Syria

"Hundreds of thousands of family members have a right to the truth about their loved ones' fate," Paulo Pinheiro, who chairs the commission, told a virtual press conference hosted by the UN in Geneva.

"Arbitrary detention was used to punish critics to punish opponents. And it was used by everyone but primarily by the Syrian state. And it was used on a massive scale."

He added: "There are today, around 5 armies fighting in Syria. There is already a very complex situation."

Asked if the Assad regime pays any heed to the commission's reports, Pinheiro said: "If you read all their comments, and their criticisms…I think they follow very closely what we do.

"The important thing for us that the victims appreciate our work. I think that is, is very important … and … without praising ourselves, the reports became some authoritative contribution for the interpretation of human rights law."

The Commission of Inquiry's 30-plus page report was based on over 2,500 interviews done over 10 years and investigations into more than 100 specific detention facilities.

It documents historical and continuing detention-related violations and abuses by nearly every major party that has controlled territory in Syria since 2011.

"The wealth of evidence collected over a decade is staggering, yet the parties to the conflict, with very few exceptions, have failed to investigate their own forces," said Commissioner Karen Koning AbuZayd.

"The focus appears to be on concealing, rather than investigating crimes committed in the detention facilities."

READ: 60% in Syria do not regularly receive safe, nutritious food, says UN

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