Syria: protection of the civilian population and the need for justice

The ICJ made an oral statement to the UN Human Rights Council, during the session with the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, concerning failures to protect the civilian population and the need for justice and calling for referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court.The ICJ underscored that for more than three years, the international community has failed to respond in a meaningful or effective manner to serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law and other human rights abuses committed in the context of the Syrian conflict, to ensure that perpetrators on all sides are held accountable, and to implement concrete measures towards justice for victims.

The statement called on the Human Rights Council to request the Security Council to take effective measures, in accordance with the UN Charter, to protect the civilian population, bring an end to the conflict, and restore and maintain peace and security in the region.

The ICJ said that states, including the member States of this Council, should also act to provide urgent humanitarian relief to refugees, IDPs, and those trapped in besieged areas.

The statement emphasised that as the armed conflict continues to escalate, government forces and opposition groups have both been responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other crimes under international law, including murder, hostage-taking, torture and other ill-treatment (including rape and other sexual violence), enforced disappearance, recruiting and using children in the hostilities, and disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian objects.

To address the pervasive and structural culture of impunity, the ICJ called on the Council to request the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. States, individually and collectively, must also comply with their obligations under international law to prevent war crimes and crimes against humanity and to exercise all grounds of jurisdiction at their disposal to investigate and prosecute anyone suspected of responsibility for such crimes.

The full statement, in PDF: Advocacy-UN-HRC25-Syria-OralStatement-032014

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