29 July 2013 - General Assembly - Human Rights situation in Syria - Statement by Mr. Philippe Bertoux, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of France to the United Nations
France aligns itself with the statement issued on behalf of the EU.
I would like to thank Mr. Pinheiro for his presentation as well as the work carried out by the commission of inquiry since it was established.
The most recent report by the commission of inquiry confirms the now inconceivable level, scale and intensity of the violence, which has gone on for more than 2 years. As Ms. Amos, Mr. Guterres and Mr. Simonovic described at the Security Council last week, the entire region could be destabilized, notably by the influx of refugees.
The regime, its militia and their allies commit, on a daily basis, massive and systematic human rights violations throughout the country. These are war crimes and crimes against humanity: enforced disappearances, torture, sexual violence, summary executions, deliberate attacks against schools and hospitals, the crackdown against medical personnel. The government’s use of ballistic missiles, cluster bombs and incendiary bombs is increasing. More than 100,000 people have already died in this conflict, including many children, and the pace is accelerating.
France is also now certain that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on several occasions in specific areas against its people, in clear violation of international law and the rules of humanitarian law. We have taken note of the talks under way between the mission of inquiry and the Syrian authorities on the allegations that chemical weapons have been used. In this context, we renew our appeal to the Syrian authorities to authorize the immediate and unrestricted access of Professor Sellström’s mission so that it can investigate all allegations of the use of chemical weapons.
The commission of inquiry notes in its most recent report that certain individuals belonging to the armed opposition groups are also committing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law which could constitute war crimes. These violations are unacceptable and we condemn them even though, as the commission of inquiry reaffirmed, they don’t approach the intensity or scale of the crimes perpetrated by the government forces. In addition, France reaffirms that the Syrian National Coalition, whose new president, Mr. Ahmad al-Assi al-Jarba was received by President Hollande on July 24, also regularly condemns the atrocities committed by these armed opposition groups.
Only a political solution can bring lasting peace. In this respect, France’s objective remains the same: the establishment of a transitional government with full executive powers, including those of the presidency, and including the control of the armed and security forces. Geneva II must take place as soon as possible, and provide a certain level of credibility. In this respect, the process should be accompanied by confidence-building measures, notably through a lull in fighting and then the cessation of fighting. From this perspective, we regret the Damascus regime’s lack of response to the offer of a truce made during Ramadan by the president of the Syrian National Coalition and then by the UN Secretary-General.
France calls for the remobilization of all actors in order to help prepare for this conference. The passage of time only increases the death toll, and further destabilizes the entire region. The passage of time only plays into the hands of the extremist groups and a regime, whose violence and brutality have increased in intensity in recent months.
All those responsible for the crimes denounced by the commission of inquiry must be held accountable for their acts. That’s why France supports the appeal by the commission of inquiry for the Security Council to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court. It is unacceptable that after two years of widespread violence and violations, the international community remains incapable of referring the matter to the international courts in order to ensure, as swiftly as possible, the fair and effective administration of justice. The fight against impunity - now and in the future -, justice for the victims and future reconciliation are at stake.
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