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The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) decided the 29th of May 2012 to declare the Syrian Ambassador accredited to Switzerland and based in Paris, Mrs. Lamia Chakkour, “persona non grata”.
The FDFA communicated the decision in a diplomatic note to the Syrian Foreign Ministry.
In this way Switzerland intends to protest against the systematic violation of UN Security Council Resolutions 2042 (2012) and 2043 (2012) as well as the failure to implement the six-point peace plan of the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan.
The legal basis for the decision is Article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
On Sunday, 27th May 2012, Switzerland condemned the recent massacre in Houla and called for an international investigation.
Switzerland has on several occasions issued strong condemnations of the human rights violations committed in Syria and has called on the Syrian authorities to bring an immediate halt to the use of violence and repression against the civilian population and take steps to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice. The Confederation has also asked the Syrian authorities to allow humanitarian actors access to the populations affected and to enable them to operate without impediment.
Switzerland reiterates its support for the plan set out by Kofi Annan as the Special Envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League, which it sees as the only way to bring a peaceful end to the crisis in Syria, and calls on the government of Syria to immediately implement all aspects of the plan.
Furthermore, Switzerland will take all necessary steps at the multilateral level, be it in the UN General Assembly or the Human Rights Council, to ensure that those responsible for human rights violations committed during the confrontations do not go unpunished.
In so far as sanctions are concerned, on 18 May 2011 Switzerland promulgated an ordinance introducing measures against Syria. This was Bern’s response to the sanctions against Syria which the European Union announced on 9 May. The sanctions adopted by Switzerland have been regularly aligned with those of the EU and concern the following areas: arms embargo, ban on oil and petroleum products, freezing of assets and economic resources, and travel restrictions. Switzerland decides independently if and when to adopt any sanctions imposed by the EU. To date the Confederation has adopted all of the EU sanctions against Syria, the most recent occasion being on 19 April 2012.
The Swiss Ambassador in Damascus was recalled to Bern for consultation on 18 August 2011 as a protest against the unacceptable violence being used against the Syrian population. The Swiss Embassy was closed at the end of February 2012 for security reasons.