News / Middle East

Syria Human Rights Investigation Mired in Politics

TEXT SIZE - +
Jeff Swicord

Human rights groups say they have documented cases of abuse by Syrian government forces against the country's civilian population. These include denying medical attention to wounded prisoners, firing live ammunition at protesters and shelling civilian neighborhoods.

After a week of heavy shelling, there is still no end to the violence in the Syrian city of Homs. The death toll continues to rise, and some human rights activists accuse President Bashar al-Assad's government of crimes against humanity.

"Amnesty International believes that the Assad government and the government of Syria have in fact carried out crimes against humanity," said Sanjeev Bery of Amnesty International.  "Of course, this sort of determination has to be made by the International Criminal Court through a formal investigation."

But the International Criminal Court (ICC) is unable to investigate.  The United Nations Security Council must make a formal recommendation in order for the ICC to act. And so far, permanent members Russia and China have used their veto power to block any action against Assad's government.  

"I think that's also factoring into the consideration of whether we should proceed with an indictment at the International Criminal Court," said Randa Slim with the Middle East Institute in Washington.  "So, there is a will, but whether they can act on it…it will depend on whether Russia will go along with it."

Some point to the Security Council action against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi as an example of how to proceed with Assad and Syria.  But Slim says Libya was different.

"Gadhafi was isolated and he had no allies," Slim noted.  "Basically, he was not on anybody's friendship list or allies list.  And so it was easy for the committee to come together and agree to referring him to the ICC.  It is just going to be difficult to do it here with Russia standing by the side of its long-standing ally."

Russia argues that further isolating Assad is a mistake and will make a negotiated settlement to the crisis more difficult.

Slim says there is some sentiment to that argument in the international community.

"There is now an argument among some Syria watchers, and some Syria analysts, and there is some argument by former U.S. officials here in the states, that by indicting Assad, indicting the senior officers around him, we lessen, we reduce the incentives for him to agree to a negotiated settlement," Slim added.

But human rights activists fear that a negotiated settlement is not in the offing.  And time is running out for Syrians caught in the line of fire.  

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid