Syria: NPWJ calls on the UN Human Rights Council to support the fight against impunity

16 Mar, 2015 | Press Releases

Brussels – Rome – New York, 16 March 2015
On 17 March 2015, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (CoI) will present its ninth report to the Human Rights Council (HRC). On the eve of the presentation, No Peace Without Justice has addressed an open letter to the 47 Members of the UN HRC calling on them to support the CoI in its mandate to fight impunity for the crimes committed in Syria and to request the publication of the names of alleged perpetrators.

Statement by Niccolò Figà-Talamanca, Secretary-General of No Peace Without Justice:

“Since its inception, the UN Commission of Inquiry has documented some of the worst violations of human rights and international criminal law gathered by any UN-mandated body. This information has been supported and corroborated by the courageous work of Syrian human rights activists and by almost daily media reports. The fact that awareness of what is happening has not yet led to any kind of accountability, with the resulting impunity feeding into ever graver violations, is clearly of frustration to the Commission, a frustration that we share.

“In its ninth Report, the Commission indicates that ‘it is crucial for the international community to adopt a common and effective strategy to address the impunity gap in the Syrian Arab Republic’ (para 139). One way to do this is to tell alleged perpetrators clearly that their actions are not going unnoticed, but that the international community is watching and that justice will follow (paras 140, 141). In an unprecedented move, the Commission stated that ‘not to publish names at this juncture of the investigation would be to reinforce the impunity that the Commission was mandated to combat’ (para 140).

“No Peace Without Justice agrees with the Commission’s assessment, considering that a political solution to the conflict will be more difficult to attain while those who bear the greatest responsibility for violations are in the highest positions of authority on all sides. Not naming alleged perpetrators has contributed directly to the political dynamics of the conflict in Syria, particularly after the chemical attack in Ghouta, resulting in an expectation that massive and systematic attacks against civilian populations will not incur a political cost, but rather will be rewarded with increased power and legitimacy.

“We urge the 47 Members of the UN Human Rights Council to support the people of Syria by requesting that the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria publish the names of alleged perpetrators, as they have proposed, as a concrete means of supporting its mandated role in the fight against impunity and continuing the mandate of the Commission to document violations in Syria to allow it to continue to play this role.

“The brutality of the Assad regime and the expectation of impunity for the crimes has fuelled violence not only in Syria but in the region, one striking example of this being crimes committed by ISIS forces in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. It is not just for the people of Syria, but the people of the region and the world that strong action must be taken now”.

For further information, Gianluca Eramo (MENA Democracy program Coordinator) on or Nicola Giovannini (Press & Public Affairs Coordinator) on or +32-2-548-3915.