News / Middle East

France Pushes for Syrian Referral to ICC

This photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center (AMC), which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows a Syrian man carrying the body of a child killed by a government forces airstrike in the
This photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center (AMC), which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows a Syrian man carrying the body of a child killed by a government forces airstrike in the
Margaret Besheer
As part of its effort to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, France presented graphic images Tuesday from the so-called Caesar report of individuals allegedly tortured, starved and killed by the Syrian government.  

Nearly 60 countries have demanded that Syria be referred to the court in The Hague. But it is up to a majority in the U.N. Security Council to decide to send it there. The Council has been very divided over the Syrian crisis, and the Russians and Chinese have previously blocked other resolutions related to the situation. They could veto any effort to refer Syria to the ICC.

French Ambassador Gérard Araud told reporters his government is going to try to persuade all Council members to support a referral.

“It will be to the ICC to investigate everything and to decide on every crime committed in Syria by the regime," he said. "I have said it several times, we are not politicizing, it is not a charge against the regime. It is all the crimes committed and crimes are also committed by the opposition."

At the news conference with the French ambassador were two members of the team of legal and medical experts that studied the 55,000 photographs of 11,000 bodies smuggled out of Syria by a former sergeant in the Syrian military police. Earlier Tuesday, the experts briefed members of the Security Council.

Their job was to give an opinion on the credibility of the man who was given the code name “Caesar,” and on the authenticity of the pictures.

David Crane, the former first chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, told reporters it is rare to receive such a cache of what they determined to be credible evidence.

“In our business we rarely have direct, specific photographic and written evidence of crimes against humanity, war crimes or genocide. Most of these thugs don’t write this stuff down," he said.

Crane and his colleague, British forensic scientist Stuart Hamilton, showed a series of disturbing and graphic photos of corpses that had endured horrific torture, including what appeared to be brutal beatings, chemical burns, bruises, strangulation and starvation.

Hamilton said there are few reasons an individual would have such injuries unless the intent was to inflict pain.

“I have not seen much like this in my career, and I can think of no natural or innocent explanation as to how someone could come to look like this," he said.

The investigators said “Caesar” did not receive any compensation for the photographs, and that he put himself at great personal risk over a two-year period to copy the pictures and then smuggle them out of Syria.

Before the Syrian conflict began in March 2011, “Caesar” had worked for 13 years as a crime scene photographer for the Syrian military police. After 2011, he was assigned to photograph corpses at a military hospital that received bodies from three detention centers in the Damascus suburbs. Working through another individual, he was eventually smuggled out of Syria last year, in an elaborate ruse that included faking his own death.  

A handful of the pictures were first made public in a British newspaper in January, as the government and opposition were meeting in Geneva in a bid to end the conflict.

Those talks ended in failure.

The investigation was funded by the Arab Gulf state of Qatar, which has supported the opposition in the Syrian crisis, leading to some skepticism about the credibility of the photographs. The Syrian government has dismissed the “Caesar” report as politicized.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid