Europe

40 groups call for prioritizing human rights in Syria talks

FILE -- In this Jan. 23, 2017 file photo, U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura arrives to attend the talks on Syrian peace in Astana, Kazakhstan. Chief of staff to de Mistura, Michael Contet,  said Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, that their "main guidance" for the first intra-Syrian peace talks in 10 months will be a Security Council resolution that calls for political transition. Contet said that de Mistura is putting the "finishing touches on arrangements" for Thursday's start of talks in Geneva between government and opposition delegations, the fourth round since early last year. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits, File)

FILE -- In this Jan. 23, 2017 file photo, U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura arrives to attend the talks on Syrian peace in Astana, Kazakhstan. Chief of staff to de Mistura, Michael Contet, said Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, that their "main guidance" for the first intra-Syrian peace talks in 10 months will be a Security Council resolution that calls for political transition. Contet said that de Mistura is putting the "finishing touches on arrangements" for Thursday's start of talks in Geneva between government and opposition delegations, the fourth round since early last year. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits, File)  (The Associated Press)

Some 40 human rights groups and other organizations say that U.N.-sponsored Syrian peace talks that will begin in Geneva this week should prioritize five key human rights issues during negotiations.

The groups said in a statement Tuesday that achieving respect and promotion for human rights during any transition and post-conflict will require key legislative and constitutional amendments to enshrine rights protection in law.

Talks between the government and the opposition are scheduled to begin Thursday in an attempt the end the country's conflict, now in its sixth year.

The groups that include Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Physicians for Human Rights say the priorities are "to end unlawful attacks and to ensure aid access and safe passage for fleeing civilians, detainee rights, justice, and security sector reform."