For Immediate Release: September 14, 2012
Washington DC- When the Human Rights Council meets next week to review the findings of its investigative panel’s report on war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria, United States Ambassador Eileen Donahoe must direct fellow Council members to immediately task the panel’s findings to the U.N Security Council for referral to the International Criminal Court.
“The council’s investigative panel report clearly documents the Assad regime’s actions of planning and perpetrating crimes against humanity, both directly and through their armed Shabibha,” says Human Rights First’s Sadia Hameed “The systematic and widespread targeting of civilian populations including indiscriminate attacks with war grade weaponry and without any forewarning is clearly a violation of international law and constitutes serious and premeditated crimes that must be punished”.
Over the last 18 months, the regime of Bashar al Assad has reacted brutally to suppress civilian protests including the indiscriminate shelling of civilian neighborhoods, use of attack helicopters to gun down civilians, opening sniper fire on crowds of peaceful protestors, committing summary executions and subjecting opposition activists to indefinite detention and torture. With a death toll now well over 20,000 and attacks continuing, the international community must ensure that these crimes do not go unpunished. The International Criminal Court has the authority to investigate and bring to justice perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but these cases must be referred to the court by the UN Security Council.
“The United States should use its permanent seat on the UN Security Council to build consensus amongst other permanent members for the immediate referral of the crimes documented in the Human Right Council panel report to the ICC,” concludes Hameed. “In the absence of swift action to deliver justice, the international community will be responsible for continued impunity enjoyed by Syria’s leaders.”