Switzerland welcomes the recommendations by the UN Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry that those responsible for human rights violations in Syria should be prosecuted

Bern, 18.02.2013 - In its report, published today, the independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria of the UN Human Rights Council calls on the international community to ensure that criminal acts will be prosecuted and that there will be no impunity for such acts. The report said that the UN Security Council should also take appropriate measures to ensure that crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the Syrian conflict are investigated and that those responsible from all conflicting parties are prosecuted. Switzerland welcomes the commission‘s recommendations.

The Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria was established by the UN Human Rights Council and was given the mandate to investigate all serious human rights violations that have taken place in Syria since March 2011. In the report published today the commission confirms that crimes against humanity, war crimes and serious violations of human rights have occurred in Syria.

The commission stressed that criminal prosecution was primarily a matter for the Syrian authorities. However, up to now they have shown no inclination to investigate the allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes in fair and independent legal proceedings. In addition to the responsibility of the Syrian state, the report says that it is the task of the various actors in Syria and of the international community to put a stop to the continuing climate of impunity and to act on behalf of justice in Syria.

As long the national authorities fail to fulfil their responsibilities, it is the urgent duty of the UN Security Council, UN member states and regional organisations to ensure that the above-mentioned crimes are prosecuted. The commission recommends that the Security Council should initiate legal proceedings for the crimes committed in Syria. One possibility would be to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.

This recommendation by the commission corresponds to the demand made by Switzerland on 14 January 2013 in a letter to the UN Security Council that was supported by a further 57 states. Switzerland believes that no lasting peace in Syria can be achieved unless consistent action is taken against impunity. 

The mandate of the Commission of Inquiry expires at the end of March. In the coming session of the Human Rights Council, Switzerland will advocate the prolongation of the mandate. 

According to the UN, almost 70,000 people have died in the Syrian civil war.

For further information:

Jean-Marc Crevoisier
Head of Information FDFA
+41 (0)79 763 84 10

Emmanuel Bichet
Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Geneva
+41 (0)79 596 19 34

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