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Human Rights Watch; Syria – Criminal Justice for Serious Crimes under International Law





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It is clear that all parties to the conflict are involved in serious human rights and humanitarian law violations. This paper addresses the issue of accountability of these grave violations

Criminal justice has short and long term benefits. First, restoring dignity to the victims by acknowledgement. Secondly, due punishment of perpetrators serves to channel condemnation. Thirdly, deter future violations and build respect for the rule of law. Finally, ccontribution to the historical record

The Report first examines the options with the International Criminal Court, the value of and need for a case at the ICC, how such a referral would work and what the drawbacks are. Subsequently it describes National Prosecutions in Syria, the impediments of National Prosecutions and the option for an Internationalized Court or Chamber Set within the National System.

Concluding, various accountability measures are needed to address the devastation that is befalling Syria. Criminal justice is one difficult, contentious, but absolutely necessary component of the picture. Successful implementation of these measures required learning lessons from various other country situations. States could take some initial concrete steps to signal greater support for justice in Syria by:

Calling on the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the ICC

  • Calling on the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the ICC
  • Encourage Russia and other to drop their opposition
  • Ensure accountability for serious abuses is central to any transition plan for Syria
  • Reject any effort to grant immunity to any suspects of serious violations of IHR or Humanitarian Law
  • Support professional documentation
  • Support an independent review of Syrian criminal and procedural law with a view to establishing whether amendments need to be made to ensure that the laws and domestic prosecutions meet international fair trial standards
  • Ensure that any plans on accountability for crimes in Syria include a commitment to ensuring impartial and independent justice; an
  • Investigate and prosecute individuals suspected of committing serious crimes under the principle of universal jurisdiction and in accordance with national laws.

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