Human Rights Groups Want Justice for Syrian Chemical Attacks

Syrian and international human rights organizations came together this week

Syrian and international human rights organizations came together this week

Syrian and international human rights organizations came together this week. They issued a joint statement urging the French government to keep investigating war crimes in Syria. The 39 groups, including Amnesty International and the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, specifically called for continuing legal action against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad over the 2013 chemical weapons attack in Ghouta that killed over 1,000 civilians.

The Ghouta Investigations 

The statement praised France for starting an investigation in 2021 into the Ghouta attacks after NGOs filed a criminal complaint. French investigative judges found enough evidence to issue international arrest warrants in November 2023 for Al-Assad, his brother Maher who leads an elite military unit, and two high-ranking Syrian generals.  

A Setback in Court

However, the joint statement criticized the French National Anti-Terror Prosecutor’s surprising move in December to challenge the validity of Al-Assad’s arrest warrant. The prosecutors argued the Syrian leader has immunity from foreign prosecution as a head of state. The human rights groups firmly rejected this stance, stating personal immunity for sitting leaders accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity is weakening under international law.

“Recent decades have seen a reduction in state immunities under international law to prevent impunity for international crimes,” the statement read. “It is now time to also challenge the immunity of the current head of state for international crimes.”

Going Against Global Rules

The groups contend France‘s position contradicts its role as a leader of the International Partnership Against Impunity for Use of Chemical Weapons. They urged France to reaffirm its commitment to holding perpetrators accountable for chemical attacks, which violate international laws and rules.  

“The worldwide network and the UN Security Council have repeatedly demanded that every one perpetrator ought to be held accountable,” citing the declaration. “France should send a clean message: the use of chemical weapons is forbidden, and all perpetrators will face justice.”

About Freelance writer

As a passionate freelance writer, I delve into the intricacies of human rights, work-life balance, and labour rights to illuminate the often overlooked aspects of our societal fabric. With a keen eye for detail and a commitment to social justice, I navigate the complexities of these crucial topics, aiming to foster awareness and inspire change.

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