Norway strongly condemned the Syrian authorities’ excessive use of force against the civilian population at the Special Session on the human rights situation in Syria on April 29th. Ambassador Bente Angell-Hansen chaired the meeting. Norway joined the call for an investigation into the deaths of innocent protesters, and questioned Syria’s upcoming membership application to the Human Rights Council. Attached is Norway’s statement during the Special Session and Foreign Affairs Minister Jonas Gahr Støre’s press release prior to and after the Special Session: http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/ud/press/news/2011/norway-condemns-violence-syria260411.html?id=641193 http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/ud/press/news/2011/violations_syria.html?id=641676
Norway welcomes this timely opportunity to address the very grave human rights situation in Syria. It is the duty of the Council to react urgently to the grave and systematic breaches of human rights we are witnessing in Syria.
Several hundred people are reported to have been killed or injured as the Syrian authorities are clamping down on demonstrators in several cities.
Norway strongly condemns the Syrian authorities’ ruthless use of violence and killing of the civilian population. The use of military force against peaceful protesters exercising their rights to expression and assembly is entirely unacceptable.
Norway joins the call for an investigation into the deaths of innocent protesters. Unlawful acts of violence must not go unpunished. The responsible must be held accountable.
Norway supports all peoples’ desire to live in a society where all human rights, including civil and political rights are safeguarded. We believe freedom of expression and assembly is a precondition for sustainable development and prosperity.
Human rights defenders play a crucial role in the promotion the rule of law and democracy. Human rights defenders must be protected and supported, not attacked and prosecuted.
The Government of Syria has an international legal obligation to protect peaceful demonstrators and the right to peaceful protest. We urge Syrian authorities to do their utmost to prevent further deterioration of the situation. We call for an immediate end to the violence and for steps to be taken to address the legitimate demands of the population.
The heavy restrictions on access to information about the events in Syria add to our concern. We urge Syrian authorities to allow for media to report openly from Syria.
We are witnessing that protesters throughout the region are calling for greater political freedom. We are seeing that in an increasingly globalised and electronically interconnected world, a democratic deficit and a lack of respect for human rights is not sustainable. The will of the people must be the basis of the authority of any government.
In the resolution establishing the Human Rights Council, there is the requirement that members “shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights”. Developments in Syria stand in stark contrast to this important requirement, and are not compatible with Syria’s bid for membership to this Council.
In closing, Norway hopes that this Council will send a strong and united message to the Syrian authorities.