A leading member of the UN human rights inquiry into Syria has quit, saying she could not carry on while President Bashar al-Assad blocks outside investigators.bk
Yakin Erturk, a leading international rights expert, left the three-person commission as the UN Human Rights Council extended its mandate for another six months.
"I decided not to continue, mainly because of my concern over not having access to Syria," Erturk told AFP. "This is a serious hindrance of the commission of inquiry."
The commission has produced two reports so far. One released this month said Syrian forces have shot dead unarmed women and children and tortured wounded protesters in hospital under orders from the "highest level" of government.
Erturk said she had full confidence that the reports produced so far were the best possible, but she felt she had "no more to contribute to the inquiry."
It was important for investigators to keep monitoring Syria, she said, but the UN Human Rights Council would have to decide whether the inquiry commission was the best way.
The council on Friday extended the mandate of the inquiry -- which is led by Sergio Pinheiro of Brazil and also includes Karin Abu Zeid of the United States -- until September when a special investigator could take over.
Assad has refused to let UN human rights investigators into the country and has only let humanitarian monitors in under close government supervision.
With the UN Security Council largely deadlocked over how to take action on Syria, the Rights Council's move to set up the inquiry last September was one of the first acts of international pressure on Assad's government.
Erturk is a former UN special human rights rapporteur on violence against women and is still a member of the Council of Europe's committee for the prevention of torture.