Syria: states must seek out and punish perpetrators of grave breaches of international law
The ICJ delivered an oral statement to the UN Human Rights Council, during the interactive dialogue with the Commission of inquiry on the Situation on human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic.
The ICJ commended the thirteen Security Council members that voted for referral of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The ICJ condemned the veto exercised by the Russian Federation and China at the Security Council, blocking efforts to ensure accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other human rights violations that continue to be committed in Syria with total impunity.
The ICC remains the best international venue for accountability in relation to Syria. The effective paralysis of the Security Council by the recalcitrance of two States makes it all the more important for the Human Rights Council to send a strong message, and for its members and indeed all States to act decisively to hold the perpetrators to account.
As highlighted by the Commission of Inquiry, the gross violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law at issue here include murder, enforced disappearance, hostage-taking, torture and other ill-treatment, rape and other sexual violence, and disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian objects.
There is no prospect in the near-term of effective accountability for these crimes at the national level within Syria.
The ICJ asked whether the Commission of Inquiry agreed that the Human Rights Council should remind all States of their obligations, individually and collectively, to seek out, prosecute and punish any person responsible for such crimes under international law committed by any party in the context of the Syrian conflict, and to ensure their prosecutors and courts have full jurisdiction and the necessary resources in this regard.
The ICJ also asked whether the Commission of Inquiry agreed that the Human Rights Council should also affirm that the situation in Syria is of a character that requires referral to an international tribunal, i.e. the International Criminal Court.
In its closing remarks to the Interactive Dialogue, the Commission of Inquiry reaffirmed that it urged the Council and all states to use all tools at their disposal to ensure accountability, both at the national level with the International Criminan Court, and at the national level as well.
The oral statement text may be downloaded in PDF format by clicking here: