Statement delivered by Justice and Constitutional Development Deputy Minister Andries Nel at the 19th Special Session of the Human Rights Council on the Deteriorating Human Rights Situation in the Syrian Arab Republic and the recent killings in El-Houleh, Palais de Nations, Geneva, 01 June 2012

Madame President,

South Africa supports the convening of this Special Session of the Human Rights Council to address this urgent matter. South Africa once again strongly condemns the killing of men, women and children in the Syrian village of El-Houleh. We wish to extend our sincere and heartfelt condolences to all the families of the victims of the horrific tragedy and we extend our solidarity to all the people of Syria in these difficult times.

South Africa believes that all those responsible for these horrific killings and criminal acts of violence must be held accountable. We support a thorough and immediate investigation into these killings with the full involvement of the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) and the Commission of Inquiry established by the Human Rights Council.

It remains imperative that the use of violence by all parties in Syria immediately cease and that stability returns to the country. South Africa believes that the 6-Point Peace Plan for Syria as presented by Joint Special Envoy, Mr Kofi Annan, presents an opportunity to resolve this conflict in an inclusive and legitimate manner. Every effort possible should be made to support and ensure the implementation of this plan, and no action should be taken to jeopardise its successful implementation.

South Africa strongly urges all parties to the conflict in Syria to cease the use of any form of violence and commit to the peaceful resolution of the conflict. We would have preferred that the outcome of this Special Session of the Council be adopted by consensus to send a clear message of our joint commitment against the use of violence in Syria. It is our view that the opportunity for sustainable peace in the region will come through diplomacy and dialogue that allows for the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people to be realised.

I thank you.

Issued by the Department of International Relations and Co-operation

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