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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora