The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and their Syrian partners delivered an oral intervention on Syria before the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday morning, March 17. The intervention was delivered by prominent Syrian human rights lawyer Anouar Al Bunni, as part of the 28th session of the HRC, which opened on March 2 in Geneva and is scheduled to continue until March 27.
Coinciding with the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the peaceful protests calling for democratic reforms in Syria, the intervention expressed dismay with the international community’s failure to confront the culture of impunity that is deeply rooted in Syria and protect civilians from abuses by both the Syrian government and warring parties in the country.
The organizations welcomed the report of the UN commission of inquiry on Syria and its efforts to expose grave violations and international crimes committed in the country. The organizations urged the HRC to ask the UN Security Council to refer the issue in Syria to the International Criminal Court, and they encouraged states prepared to implement a global justice system to investigate alleged international crimes in Syria in order to end impunity and lack of accountability for the Syrian crisis.
For its part, the commission of inquiry commented on the intervention saying that it will show special attention in its coming reports to the violations committed against human rights defenders in Syria, in an attempt to end the systematic attacks on them. The commission agreed with the intervention on the need to highlight the global justice system for states and the demand that the case be referred to the ICC.
The intervention reviewed some of the violations committed by the Syrian government and extremist terrorist groups, noting that both had utterly failed to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law.
The Syrian government continues to pursue a policy of disproportionate, indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas using internationally banned weapons, including barrel bombs, cluster munitions, and toxic gas. Entire communities are also subjected to long-term military sieges and aerial bombings.
Meanwhile, extremist terrorist groups have largely eroded fundamental freedoms in areas under their control by imposing a militant interpretation of Islamic law. They have also held public executions of men and women and forcibly uprooted civilians due to their ethnic or religious backgrounds, as well as other atrocities aimed to terrify local populations. Syrian civilians have been kidnapped by militias, most recently 235 Assyrian Christians and human rights defender Razan Zaitouneh and her colleagues.
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