Syria : "Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice"
Side Event, Syria : War Crimes and the Pursuit of Justice - Statement by Marie-Laure Charrier, French expert on Human Rights - 14 April 2016
Thank you. I would like to start by thanking the speakers and warmly welcoming the presence of Mazen Darwish. Sir, you embody a longstanding commitment to Human Rights and the will of your people who rose up peacefully to exercise its freedoms in 2011. You have spoken out against the violations and the oppression by the regime. For this, as tens of thousands of other Syrians, you have been detained for too long, abused, in defiance of all justice. I’m expressing the solemn hope here, that all prisoners arbitrarily detained, will be released. Unfortunately, a number of them already died in custody, due to starvation and torture. The pictures of the Ceasar file highlight the repression and barbarism of the Syrian regime.
Sir, your commitment commands respect. It encourages us to remain mobilized, like you, for justice is due to the Syrian people.
In Syria, despite the cessation of hostilities announced on February 27, international law continues to be violated on a daily basis, primarily by the Syrian regime which bears the greatest responsibility through systematic logic of terror and destruction - sieges, indiscriminate or deliberate attacks against civilians. At the same time, the crimes of Daesh have thrived on the breeding ground of this repression. Civilians are paying an intolerable price.
The cessation of hostilities had led to a reduction of tensions ; but the situation has worsened again in recent weeks with the increased number of attacks by the regime. The attack in the suburbs of Damascus last March 31, which deliberately targeted civilians, was one of the most brutal instances.
Humanitarian or medical personnel, and civilian facilities, such as hospitals and schools, are also targeted, in blatant violation of international humanitarian law. France is strongly committed, and actively working with Security Council partners, to strengthen the protection of civilians, in order to end attacks against medical workers and humanitarian personnel and to enable them to undertake their mission. These abuses and others - such as the destruction of property and heritage sites - can amount to war crimes or even crimes against humanity.
Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice. This day can be anticipated and prepared.
1) First, we must continue the work of investigation, information gathering and identification of those responsible. For this, we have a unique and impartial instrument : the International Independent Inquiry Commission, which we support since the beginning, as Ms. Pillay can attest.
2) Then, as recalled by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, it is essential to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including by a referral to the International Criminal Court. Other avenues can be explored, including at a national level. For instance, the French authorities transmitted the Caesar report to French judicial authorities that are now seized for war crimes and crimes against humanity, torture and kidnapping. We encourage the efforts of other national courts in this regard, and international cooperation between judicial authorities. Only justice and respect for the law will allow a just and lasting peace. We need to work together by promoting the resumption of the talks to go towards a credible transition in Syria, within the framework set by resolution 2254 of the Security Council. The resumption of negotiations since yesterday is crucial. Without political transition away from Assad, there will be no unity among Syrians, instability will continue to flourish, there will be no lasting peace in Syria. Thank you.