News / Middle East

International Pressure Growing to Refer Syria to ICC

FILE - U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay FILE - U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay
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FILE - U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay
FILE - U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay
Margaret Besheer
— U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told the U.N. Security Council Friday that she believes war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed by both sides in the Syrian conflict, and she said the situation should be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague.

Pillay said she told the 15-nation council that more than 60,000 Syrians have been killed in the conflict and that heinous crimes - such as rape, torture, killings, abductions and the recruitment of child soldiers - are taking place.

“I have informed the Security Council that based on the information that I have received and which the Commission of Inquiry has gathered - I firmly believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed, are being committed, and should be investigated,” said Pillay.

It is not the first time the human rights commissioner has called for the situation in Syria to be referred to the ICC. She said she would continue to call for the move, because the United Nations does not support impunity for such grave human rights violations.

Multi-national support

Pillay was supported by the Security Council ambassadors from France, Britain, Australia, Luxembourg and South Korea, who made their own joint appeal for the matter to be referred to The Hague. British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant spoke on behalf of the five, who along with 53 other countries signed a letter this week to the U.N. Security Council president calling for the referral.

“In the face of such a dramatic death toll and the silence of the Security Council, we felt that we must speak out on the absolute need for accountability and to send a clear message that the international community is not turning a blind eye to the atrocities being committed in Syria. Without accountability, there will be no sustainable peace,” said Grant.

Grant acknowledged that divisions remain among the 15-nation council about such a referral. Several members, including veto-holders Russia and China, are not members to the court’s treaty.

Rising sexual violence

U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos also briefed the closed meeting of the council. She told reporters afterwards that sexual violence against women in Syria is on the rise.

“I have also spoken to women refugees who have raised this issue with me; that they have fled Syria because of their concerns, not just for themselves, but particularly for their daughters,” said Amos.

She also expressed concerns about the effect of the harsh winter on those inside Syria and refugees in neighboring countries, and said the United Nations urgently needs funding for its $1.5 billion humanitarian appeal.

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by: Anonymous
January 21, 2013 11:22 AM
Bashar doesn't really care about any life in Syria but his own. That is why he is trying to kill every opponent. He doesn't want the Syrian people to control their own country. At this point New Syria would indict Bashar al Assad on crimes against the Syrian Nation. Number one being Murder of innocent civilians / Genocide.


by: Michael from: USA
January 19, 2013 9:21 AM
Commissioner Pillay has been an avid collector of facts about the Syrian war from the first. The basic issue we all know: human rights, and I believe a criminal case is important to begin ASAP even though it is humanly impossible to find ANYONE involved completely innocent


by: Alfonso
January 19, 2013 2:10 AM
Does Zimbabwe qualify for the Hague? or does it not matter?

Please give a reply


by: Anonymous
January 18, 2013 9:09 PM
Excellent news!!! Keep up the hard work. I would like to see Bashar al Assad facing tens of thousands of murder charges for killing innocent civilians. This would be a great day for the entire world. Bashar seems to think he can kill anyone and get away with it.

In Response

by: Igor from: Russia
January 19, 2013 12:31 AM
You tend to blame Bashar al Assad for every single crime against humanity. But I think he is the poor victim of the violence. I blame the foreign hidden faces who have been instigating sectarian hatred among Syrian people for the viloence. They are serving the devil for God's sake and always speaking of democracy, human rights...

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