Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Submission of information about alleged crimes against humanity in Syria

For the attention of Mr. Luis Moreno-Ocampo

Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court

Dear Sir,

My name is Karim Fael and I'm writing this letter, on behalf of several fellow syrian citizen, to formally submit an allegation against the syrian regime to your office. Although I strongly believe that only a syrian court has the right to prosecute and judge - in the name of the syrian people - those who are responsible for what is going on, I'm aware that this can't happen before the downfall of the regime. The reality in Syria, is that the state and its apparatuses have managed to eliminate all other forms of institutional life within the country, and at the same time they managed to oppress any individuals and any group whose aim was to build such structure. This fact adds further difficulty to the hard mission of the people of syria calling for a radical change. And these are some of the reasons that pushed me to write this communication.

As underlined by Brandon Henander in a recent article, governments have attacked and killed civilian protesters across North Africa and the Middle East. These events have resulted in action by the International Criminal Court against Libya but inaction against similar atrocities in other Middle Eastern states.

Reading the Rome Statute, Syria in particular seems to have met unequivocally the qualification for an official scrutiny by the Office of The Prosecutor of the ICC.

This communication is therefore intended to be the first step towards the submission of a full case - providing informations, evidences and international law referrals - against the Syrian regime for an official investigation for crimes against humanity.

Below I quote the article 7 of the Rome Statute:

For the purpose of this Statute, `crime against humanity´ means any of the

following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

1. Murder;

2. Extermination (includes the intentional infliction of conditions of life, inter alia the deprivation of access to food and medicine, calculated to bring about the destruction of part of a population);

3. ...

4. Deportation or forcible transfer of population;

5. Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law;

6. Torture;

7. ...

8. Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court;

9. Enforced disappearance of persons;

10. ...

11. Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.

The brutal crackdown against protesters calling for reform has left some 400 people dead since mid-March.

The Syrian government - said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International´s Secretary General - is clearly trying to shatter the will of those peacefully expressing dissent by shelling them, firing on them and locking them up. The Syrian government and its security forces have long felt able to operate with total impunity, and we are now seeing the result of that in the kinds of bloody acts that they have been committing on the streets of Syria in recent days. President al-Assad and those around him have to understand that their actions will have consequences, namely that if they gun down their own citizens the international community will hold them individually criminally responsible before the ICC or national courts of states exercising universal jurisdiction.

The government last week announced the lifting of the 48-year-old state of emergency, but violence has since spiralled, with at least 120 people killed on Friday, until then the bloodiest day so far. Amnesty International has received the names of 393 people killed since protests began, but the real number is likely to be higher. In a number of incidents, snipers have targeted wounded people lying in the streets and people trying to assist them, according to Amnesty International's sources.

After the Syrian army deployed in Dera'a on 25 April, tanks were reportedly used to shell residential buildings where there was no evidence that the persons inside were armed. At the moment the city is still under heavy and inhuman siege.

Also according with Amnesty International several hundred people have been arrested across the country, the vast majority held incommunicado and with their whereabouts unknown. Many of those who have been released have reported that they were tortured in detention. The human rights violations by the Syrian authorities reported in the last few weeks include murder and torture and appear to have been committed by members of the security forces as part of a widespread - as well as systematic - attack on the civilian population.

Best Regards,

Karim Fael


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