British Newspaper: European Courts Offer Best Hope of Bringing Assad to Book
A British newspaper said that there are still ‘glimmers of hope’ to bring the Assad regime to justice for committing large-scale war crimes against civilians in Syria. It cited the recent lawsuits and arrest warrants issued by European courts for senior Assad regime officials.
In an article it published under the title ‘those responsible for Syria’s agony must be brought to book, starting at the top,’ the Guardian newspaper said that “despite Russia blocking attempts to investigate Assad’s war crimes, there are glimmers of hope.”
“Yet the quest for justice for all must not obscure the fact that the main responsibility for eight years of mass killing lies squarely on the shoulders of Syria’s dictator, Bashar al-Assad, his regime cronies, and their Russian, Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah allies,” said Simon Tisdall who penned the article.
“In his bid to cling to power, Assad has presided over the deaths of up to 500,000 people, the displacement of roughly half of Syria’s prewar 23 million population, the destruction of major cities and towns, and a vast, destabilizing humanitarian crisis.”
Tisdall added: “Assad and his main foreign backer, Russian president Vladimir Putin, are responsible for the merciless, systemic and endlessly repeated aerial bombing of schools, clinics, hospitals and community centers designed to terrorize and cow local populations.”
“Captured opposition fighters and sympathizers have been tortured and murdered in their thousands. Assad, supported by Moscow, has used chemical weapons more than 100 times in flagrant breach of legal commitments made in 2013.”
“There is no shortage of evidence to back these charges. The “independent, impartial and international mechanism” for investigating serious crimes in Syria, created by the UN general assembly in 2016, has documented thousands of crimes.”
“The so-called Caesar archive – the regime’s own photographs of the bodies of 6,700 people who died in custody – was smuggled out by a defector. Then there is the eye-witness testimony of exiled Syrian civilians and of UN and NGO workers and human rights activists.”
Tisdall continued: “But there are glimmers of hope. National courts in Europe are under pressure from activists to employ rarely used powers of universal jurisdiction to pursue crimes against international law, such as those committed in Syria, even where there is no direct domestic connection.”
Tisdall concluded his article by stressing that “it is a valiant effort deserving of success. Yet it is a shocking indictment of the UN-led international system, and the inaction of individual governments, including Britain’s, that this may yet prove the best hope of bringing Assad to book.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)