UN Links Assad to War Crimes in Syria for First Time

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 2 2013 6:55 PM

UN Links Assad to War Crimes in Syria for First Time

180124525
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is linked to war crimes by a UN official.

Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

The United Nations’ top human rights official for the first time linked Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in his country. On Monday, Navi Pillay, the UN’s high commissioner for human rights said that a UN panel investigating abuses in Syria found “massive evidence” of war crimes. Pillay said in a press conference, the New York Times reports, “they point to the fact that the evidence indicates responsibility at the highest level of government, including the head of state.”

Pillay’s frank remarks about Assad’s role in possible human rights violations were unusual, Al Jazeera reports, because they are “at odds with a policy of keeping the identity of alleged perpetrators under wraps pending any judicial process.” Syria’s deputy Foreign Minister responded to Pillay’s comments, telling the Associated Press: "she has been talking nonsense for a long time and we don't listen to her.” The UN panel has not been allowed to investigate inside Syria, according to the Los Angeles Times, and relies on information from interviews with refugees and Skype conversations with people in Syria.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

  Slate Plus
Working
Nov. 27 2014 12:31 PM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 11 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked a helicopter paramedic about his workday.