2-27-2012By Winny Chen
Crimes Against Humanity Program
If you followed the news in Syria this weekend, then you heard about Bashar al-Assad’s latest attempt to maintain power. The Syrian government— the same one that has killed over 6,000 civilians—held a referendum in which the public overwhelmingly supported (89%) constitutional reform. Of course, the vote and the new constitution are but hollow gestures that will do nothing to stem the violence.
The European Union, however, took meaningful action, imposing a new round of sanctions on the Assad regime. Matching its actions to its words, the EU froze assets of seven Syrian government officials as well as Syria’s central bank. It also banned the purchase of precious metals and diamonds from the country and prohibited Syrian cargo flights from entering the EU. This new round of restrictions builds on a growing international sanctions regime, which now includes a ban on trade with Syria, arms and oil embargoes, and the freezing of assets of people responsible for human rights abuses in Syria. For more information on U.S. sanctions against Syria, check out our factsheet.
Human Rights First continues to call on the Obama administration to fully implement existing U.S. sanctions against Syria. It should start by targeting enablers of Syrian regime’s atrocities. In Executive Order 13572, President Obama froze the assets of all people found “to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of” human rights abuses in Syria. Rosoboronexport, the Russian state arms dealer, has done just that. It’s time for the United States and partners to hold Rosoboronexport and other enablers accountable.