Syrian War Crimes: Can Justice Be Achieved?

The evidence of war crimes committed in Syria appears to be damning, but hopes for achieving any sense of justice may be a pipe dream due to Russia’s unwillingness to hold its ally, Syria, to account, Karl Vick writes in Time magazine.

“As a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia can veto any action there. And as a backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Moscow has repeatedly blocked condemnations of human rights violations in the country — which would include appalling atrocities attributed to assorted rebel groups arrayed against the central government. The thwarted demands for justice included a letter signed by 58 nations a year ago to refer the situation in Syria to the ICC.

“Russia – along with China, which frequently objects on principle to outside scrutiny of a state’s behavior toward its own people – also is in a position to prevent establishment of a U.N. court specifically devoted to prosecuting war crimes in Syria, as were established after wars in Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and elsewhere.”

Sir Desmond de Silva, the prosecutor who lead the case against war criminals in Sierra Leone told BBC Radio 4 that the crimes witnessed in Syria were of “a degree of savagery rarely seen,” according to London’s Daily Telegraph.

“Syria has not signed up to its own statute, so if we took the route of going to the security council they have the power to refer matters to the ICC (International Criminal Court), but it is very likely that route will be taken as Russia will exercise their veto yet again,” he said.

Syria earned distinction as one of the worst violators of human rights in a new report released by Human Rights Watch. In its World Report 2014 the group’s executive director, Kenneth Roth, said despite evidence of horrific abuses.”

He went on to say the scant chance of any real progress being achieved during the Geneva II peace talks, “they shouldn’t become the latest excuse to avoid action to protect Syrian civilians. This requires real pressure to stop the killing and allow the delivery of the humanitarian aid they need to survive.”

There Is A Cost Associated With Non-Interventionism Too
Writing in Commentary magazine, Max Boot expresses his disagreement with CNN foreign analyst Fareed Zakaria’s latest article in which he argues for a hands-off approach to the Middle East.

“But the fact that the Middle East has deep problems doesn’t mean that the U.S. and other outside powers can’t help to ameliorate them. (Isn’t this what Secretary of State John Kerry and others argue when they press for more American involvement in the “peace process”?) And in fact it is American non-involvement in Iraq that is empowering Maliki and his sectarian tendencies. When the U.S. was more actively involved in 2007-2009, we served as a bridge between Shiite sectarians in Baghdad and Sunni sheikhs in Anbar. Now that bridge is gone, and open warfare has erupted between the two camps. Lacking much influence, Obama has been reduced to fulfilling Maliki’s arms orders, which in fact does fuel the conflict,” he counters.

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