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Syria: Human Rights

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 14 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the government of Syria on human rights in relation to the universal periodic review conducted by the UN Human Rights Council. (204342)

Our ambassador in Damascus raised the periodic review of the UK by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) with officials at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 28 April. He welcomed the review, underlined our support for these mechanisms and looked forward to other states working with the HRC in the same constructive way.

Syria will be one of the last countries to be reviewed under the UN's new universal periodic review process in 2011. The UK has not yet engaged in dialogue with Syria on its review. However, we are prepared to do so when they start to prepare for this important process.

In the meantime, the UK continues to have serious concerns about the human rights situation in Syria, which has deteriorated worryingly in recent months. We continue to call on Syria to abide by its international obligations on human rights. Our embassy in Damascus, working with other EU missions, continues to press the Syrians to improve conditions in general as well as raising individual cases of concern.