Syrian forces committed crimes against humanity: U.N. report


Syria’s military and security forces have committed crimes against humanity, including murder, torture and rape in their brutal crackdown on anti-regime protesters, U.N.-appointed investigators said on Monday.

The commission added that the government of President Bashar al-Assad bore responsibility for the crimes.

“The commission is gravely concerned that crimes against humanity have been committed in different locations in the Syrian Arab Republic during the period under review,” the Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria said in its report, concluding that military and security forces were behind the acts.

“It calls upon the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic to put an immediate end to the ongoing gross human rights violations, to initiate independent and impartial investigations of these violations and to bring perpetrators to justice,” it wrote in its summary.

It added its regret that despite several requests the Commission was denied access to the country.

The report raises the possibility of referring the Syrian file to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the U.N. Security Council.

“The commission also addresses specific recommendations to opposition groups, the Human Rights Council, regional organizations and States Members of the United Nations.”

The report highlights arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, torture and other forms of ill-treatment meted out by the Assad regime.

It also includes testimonials on sexual violence as well as violations committed on children like physical violence upon boys or their death ─ adding, in detail, that all these crimes were in violation of international law.

“According to the principles of State responsibility in international law, the Syrian Arab Republic bears responsibility for these crimes and violations, as well as the duty to ensure that individual perpetrators are punished and that victims receive reparation,” it writes.

Some of its recommendations to the Syrian state include “putting an immediate end to gross human rights violations; initiate prompt, independent and impartial investigations under both domestic and international law to end impunity, ensure accountability and bring perpetrators to justice; pending investigations, suspend from the military and the security forces all alleged perpetrators of serious human rights violations; ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and introduce domestic legislation consistent with it; allow immediate and full access for the commission and outside observers, and other United Nations human rights monitoring bodies.”

It recommends to the U.N. High Commissioner the establishing of a field presence in the Syrian Arab Republic “with a protection and promotion mandate.”

To U.N. member states and especially the League of Arab States, it recommends, amongst other things, “providing Syrian nationals seeking protection with refuge in accordance with the provisions of the international law governing asylum.”

European Union governments had agreed to impose additional financial sanctions on the Syrian government.

The goal of the new sanctions, which follow unprecedented sanctions by the Arab League on Sunday, is to “cut the regime’s access to money,” the European diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

The ministers will also add 12 more individuals and a least 11 more entities to a blacklist of people and companies hit by assets freezes and travel bans over the regime’s crackdown on protesters, the source added.

Among the other measures to be approved Thursday, the ministers will prohibit investments linked to the construction of new power stations in Syria and the signing of insurance contracts with the Syrian state.

The other financial sanctions include a ban on aid, credits or long-term guarantees provided by EU states to their companies for exports to Syria.

The EU has passed nine rounds of sanctions against Syria, placing 74 people on the list, including President Assad, enforcing an arms embargo and banning imports of Syrian crude oil.

The Arab League slapped its own unprecedented sanctions at the weekend, including an immediate ban on transactions with the Syrian government and central bank, and a freeze on Syrian government assets in Arab countries.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has invited Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi to attend the talks in Brussels on Thursday.

France, backed by Germany, Sweden and Britain, also wants to discuss Syria with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, but his participation has yet to be confirmed.