February 06, 2012
Clinton Vow to Address Syrian Atrocities Should Start with Targeted Sanctions
Washington, DC – Following Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s vow to “redouble [U.S.] efforts” to end the violence in Syria, Human Rights First calls on the U.S. Treasury Department to sanction Russian arms company Rosoboronexport and other companies supplying weapons to the Syrian regime. Following Saturday’s failed UN vote, in which Russia and China blocked an Arab League plan calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, these sanctions are an immediate and concrete step the U.S. Government could take to quell the violence in Syria. “Targeted sanctions against Assad’s enablers should be an immediate measure that is included in any new sanctions package,” said Human Rights First’s Sadia Hameed. “It’s not surprising that Russia is against the arms embargoes. Their state arms dealer, Rosoboronexport, continues to supply Assad’s regime with the arms and material support it needs to perpetrate widespread and systematic attacks against civilians. The U.S. should step in and stop these shipments.” Last week, Human Rights First issued a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner urging him to use his authority under the International Economic Emergency Powers Act to sanction Rosoboronexport for materially supporting the commission of human rights violations in Syria. Rosoboronexport signed a deal with the Syrian government in January to sell 36 combat jets capable of hitting ground targets, a move likely to escalate ongoing violence in Syria and bring the country closer to civil war. Human Rights First’s letter called on the United States to cease all business with Rosoboronexport and designate the Russian company for sanctions. According to Human Rights First, the Obama administration should follow through on its commitment to fully implement sanctions by targeting those entities that provide the material or technical support that Assad needs to continue his crackdown on the people of Syria. Secretary Clinton promised that both new and existing sanctions “will be implemented to the fullest to dry up the sources of funding and the arms shipments that are keeping the regime’s war machine going.” The requested Treasury Department action would be an immediate, concrete step that the U.S. Government could take now. The fact that the United States currently engages in business with Rosoboronexport must not be reason to exclude them from being designated for targeted sanctions. “In the face of a ‘neutered’ Security Council – to use Secretary Clinton’s words – condemning the sale and sanctioning Rosoboronexport would send a clear message to the Syrian people that the United States remains committed to ending the atrocities and will take action to disrupt those who enable the slaughter of innocent people,” concluded Hameed.