Justice for Syrians is 'more important than ever', Amnesty says before uprising anniversary

Justice for Syrians is 'more important than ever', Amnesty says before uprising anniversary
Amnesty said that the UN Security Council had succumbed to pressure from the Assad regime's backers, giving the Syrian people no justice.
3 min read
12 March, 2021
The report came ahead of the Syrian uprising's ten-year anniversary [Getty]
The international community has completely failed to deliver justice for the Syrian people and the UN Security Council must push for accountability for war crimes, Amnesty International said on Friday.

The international human rights group published a statement to coincide with the 10-year anniversary of the Syrian uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, which falls on March 15.

Amnesty said that Syrian regime force have carried out countless unlawful ground and air attacks, widespread arbitrary detentions and torture, enforced disappearances, sieges which have led to starvation, and forced displacement, ever since peaceful protests began in Syria in 2011.

It added that opposition forces also committed numerous human rights violations later on in the conflict.

It also criticised Russia, a key backer of the Assad regime, and China for vetoing UN Security Council resolutions on Syria at least 15 times throughout the war.

“Members of the UN Security Council have the power and the mandate to help the people of Syria. Instead, they have completely failed them. Ten years on, perpetrators of horrific violations, including crimes against humanity and war crimes, continue to inflict immense suffering on civilians as they evade justice,” said Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

 “Russia and China have repeatedly abused their veto powers to restrict the provision of life-saving cross-border humanitarian aid, to stop a referral of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, and to block resolutions that would impose arms embargoes or targeted sanctions against individuals on all sides responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity,” she added.

The report blamed Russia, Iran and Turkey for their support of factions responsible for violations. Amnesty also slammed Russia and the United States for their airstrikes and ground operations in Syria; Moscow for attacking civilian areas alongside Bashar al Assad’s regime, and Washington for causing destruction in civilian areas during the fight against Islamic State in Al-Raqqa.

“For far too long, states have shamelessly put political allegiances and interests before the lives of millions of children, women and men– effectively enabling the horror story in Syria to continue with no end in sight,” Maalouf stated. 

“It is high time for the powers backing the forces on the ground to realise that they can’t continue to ignore justice and accountability if there is to be any hope for a safe and dignified future for the Syrian people.” 

Read more: Child refugees dream of Syria they never knew

On Thursday, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Thursday called for national courts to conduct fair, public and transparent trials into human rights violations in Syria. 

In a report to the UN Human Rights Council, Bachelet said that "the violence that spiraled into an armed conflict has left hundreds of thousands of Syrians dead, millions displaced both within and outside the country, and many Syrian families struggling to establish the truth of what happened to their loved ones.”

She added that the recent conviction of former Syrian intelligence officer Eyad al-Gharib by a German trial court for aiding crimes against humanity was "an important step forward" on the path to justice.

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