Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS)

Security Council must refer Syria to the ICC

26-April-2011

Security Council must refer Syria to the ICC

The UN Security Council must refer the situation in Syria to
the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Amnesty International said
today, amid escalating government violence against protesters calling for
reform.

The call comes as the Security Council considers its
response to the brutal crackdown that has left some 400 people dead since
mid-March.

“The Syrian government is clearly trying to shatter the will
of those peacefully expressing dissent by shelling them, firing on them and
locking them up,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

“The Syrian government and its security forces have long
felt able to operate with total impunity, and we are now seeing the result of
that in the kinds of bloody acts that they have been committing on the streets
of Syria in recent days.”

“President al-Assad and those around him have to understand
that their actions will have consequences, namely that if they gun down their
own citizens the international community will hold them individually criminally
responsible before the ICC or national courts of states exercising universal
jurisdiction.”

The organization also called for the imposition of a
comprehensive arms embargo on Syria and an assets freeze on President Bashar
al-Assad and others involved in ordering or perpetrating serious human rights
abuses.

Since protests began in March, unarmed Syrians gathering to
call for greater freedom have routinely been attacked by security forces firing
live ammunition directly into crowds of peaceful demonstrators.

The government last week announced the lifting of the
48-year-old state of emergency but violence has since spiralled, with at least
120 people killed on Friday, until then the bloodiest day so far.

Amnesty International has received the names of 393 people
killed since protests began, but the real number is likely to be higher.

In a number of incidents, snipers have targeted wounded
people lying in the streets and people trying to assist them, according to
Amnesty International’s sources.

The organization rejected claims by the Syrian government
that many of the killings had been committed by anti-government armed groups,
saying that it had seen no evidence to support such allegations.

After the Syrian army deployed in Dera’a on 26 April, tanks
were reportedly used to shell residential buildings where there was no evidence
that the persons inside were armed.

Several hundred people have been arrested across the
country, the vast majority held incommunicado and with their whereabouts
unknown. Many of those who have been released have reported that they were
tortured in detention.

On 26 February the UN Security Council unanimously resolved
to refer the situation in Libya to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal
Court.

“The Security Council needs now to step up to the mark and
show leadership on Syria as it did on Libya,” said Salil Shetty.

 

“A consistent policy of zero-tolerance for crimes against
humanity will send a signal to all governments that impunity for crimes under
international law is no longer acceptable.”

Background

The human rights violations by the Syrian authorities
reported in the last few weeks include murder and torture and appear to have
been committed by members of the security forces as part of a widespread – as
well as systematic – attack on the civilian population. As such these
violations would amount to crimes against humanity.

Public Document

For more information please call Amnesty International’s
press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or email: press@amnesty.org

International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton
St., London WC1X 0DW, UK

www.amnesty.org