Washington D.C., Oct 31, 2013 / 05:08 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a hearing before a congressional committee, policy officials called for the establishment of a Syrian war crimes tribunal to bring to justice those guilty of human rights violations in the 30-month long conflict.
“Those who have perpetrated human rights violations among the Syrian government, the rebels and the foreign fighters on both sides of this conflict must be shown that their actions will have serious consequences,” said Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.), chairman of the House’s subcommittee on global human rights, at the Oct. 30 hearing.
“This is not an academic exercise. We must understand the difficulties of making accountability for war crimes in Syria a reality.”
Smith added that “therefore, we must understand the challenges involved so that we can meet and overcome them and give hope to the terrorized people of Syria. Their suffering must end, and the beginning of that end could come through the results of today’s proceeding.”
The call for a war crimes tribunal is a response to the gross human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by both government and rebel forces during a violent civil war that has racked Syria for more than two years.
In late August, reports indicated that chemical weapons had been used against civilians in the country, killing more than 1,400 people.
The Obama administration said it had conclusive evidence that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for these attacks, though the Syrian government denied this charge and blamed the rebels for the use of chemical weapons.
The possibility of a U.S. military strike against Syria sparked strong opposition from Russia, whose leaders said they have compiled an extensive report with evidence that rebels used chemical weapons back in March.
After several days of talks, an agreement was reached for Syria’s chemical weapons to be eliminated. The process is being overseen by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
On Oct. 31, weapons inspectors in Syria announced that the country’s declared equipment for producing chemical weapons has been destroyed. The regime is to destroy its existing stock of chemical weapons by July 2014.
Smith introduced a resolution asking for a war crimes tribunal on Sept. 9, as a way to enforce international human rights standards prohibiting the use of chemical weapons, while at the same time avoiding the escalation of violence in the war-torn country that would likely result from a (Read More)