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Syria: Individual and Command Responsibility for Crimes against Humanity (HRW report)

Human Rights Watch (HRW) publicou estes días un informe sobre Siria. O informe, dunhas noventa páxinas, leva por título “By All Means Necessary!” Individual and Command Responsibility for Crimes against Humanity in Syria. Copio un extracto da súa introdución:

Since the beginning of anti-government protests in March 2011, Syrian security forces have killed more than 4 000 protesters, injured many more, and arbitrarily arrested tens of thousands across the country, subjecting many of them to torture in detention. These abuses, extensively documented by HRW based on statements of hundreds of victims and witnesses, were committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population and thus constitute crimes against humanity.

This report focuses on the individual and command responsibility of Syrian military commanders and intelligence officials for these crimes. It is based on interviews with 63 defectors both from the army and from the intelligence agencies, generally known as the mukhabarat. These defectors shared with HRW detailed information about their units’ participation in violations and the orders they received from commanders at different levels. The defectors provided information on violations that occurred in seven of Syria’s fourteen governorates: Damascus, Daraa, Homs, Idlib, Tartous, Deir al-Zor, and Hama.

HRW interviewed all of the defectors separately and at length. Violations described in this report are those that were described separately by several defectors and with sufficient detail to convince the researcher that the interviewees had first-hand knowledge of the incidents in question. Several accounts have been excluded because interviewees did not provide such detail. The statements of soldiers and officers who defected from the Syrian military and intelligence agencies leave no doubt that the abuses were committed in pursuance of state policy and that they were directly ordered, authorized, or condoned at the highest levels of Syrian military and civilian leadership.

HRW’s findings show that military commanders and officials in the intelligence agencies gave both direct and standing orders to use lethal force against the protesters (at least 20 such cases are documented in detail in this report) as well as to unlawfully arrest, beat, and torture the detainees. In addition, senior military commanders and high-ranking officials, including President Bashar al-Assad and the heads of the intelligence agencies, bear command responsibility for violations committed by their subordinates to the extent that they knew or should have known of the abuses but failed to take action to stop them.

Syrian authorities repeatedly claimed that the violence in the country has been perpetrated by armed terrorist gangs, incited and sponsored from abroad. HRW has documented several incidents in which demonstrators and armed neighborhood groups have resorted to violence. Since September, armed attacks on security forces have significantly increased, with the Free Syrian Army, a self-declared opposition armed group with some senior members in Turkey, taking responsibility for many of them. Syrian authorities have claimed that more than 1 100 members of the security forces have been killed since the beginning of the anti-government protests in mid-March.

However, despite the increased number of attacks by defectors and neighborhood defense groups, witness statements and corroborating information indicate that the majority of protests that HRW has been able to document since the uprising began in March have been largely peaceful. The information provided for this report by defectors, who were deployed to suppress the protests, supports that assessment and underlines the lengths to which the authorities have gone to misrepresent the protesters as “armed gangs” and “terrorists.” But there is a risk —as seen in hard hit places like the city of Homs— that bigger segments of the protest movement will arm themselves in response to attacks by security forces or pro-government militias, known as shabeeha.

Considering the evidence that crimes against humanity have been committed in Syria, the pervasive climate of impunity for security forces and pro-government militias, and the grave nature of many of their abuses, HRW believes that the United Nations Security Council should refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Crimes against humanity are considered crimes triggering universal jurisdiction under international customary law (meaning that national courts of third states could investigate and prosecute them even if they were committed abroad, by foreigners and against foreigners). All states are responsible for bringing to justice those who have committed crimes against humanity. […]

20 Decembro 2011 - Posted by | Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Politics, Syria

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