UNICEF calls on Syria to investigate reported killings of children

According to media reports casualties among civilians protesting against the government have been high. UNICEF said it had received, but could not independently confirm, information that the use of live ammunition against demonstrators has reportedly left at least 30 children dead.“While UNICEF cannot verify the reported cases and events, we are particularly disturbed by the recent video images of children who were arbitrarily detained and suffered torture or ill-treatment during their detention, leading in some cases to their death,” the agency said in a statement.“We call on the Government to thoroughly investigate these reports and ensure that perpetrators of such horrific acts are identified and brought to justice.”Stressing that UNICEF calls for immediate efforts by all sides to spare civilians, the agency added that “as party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Syria has an obligation to ensure children’s right to life, to freedom of expression, to freedom of peaceful assembly, and to protection from violence, exploitation and abuse. These rights must be upheld at all times.”Last week the UN said it was awaiting a response from the Syrian Government to a request for access for a human rights team to enter the country in June to investigate the recent violence.The assessment mission, which will be headed by Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang, is set to begin on 6 June after first visiting neighbouring countries, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).Rupert Colville, a spokesperson for OHCHR, said last week that the Office remains “deeply concerned” about the situation on the ground, where security forces have clashed with protesters in a number of towns and cities. 31 May 2011The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today called on the Syrian Government to investigate reports of torture and killing of children and said all parties to the fighting in the Middle East country must “spare civilians, particularly children and women.”