WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), issued the following statement in response to the veto today by Russia and China of a U.N. Security Council resolution that referred the Syrian crisis to the International Criminal Court for investigation of possible war crimes. The conflict has resulted in the death of over 140,000 people in Syria, including at least 10,000 children. UNICEF has recently reported that Syria is among the most dangerous places on Earth to be a child, pointing to high child casualty rates, brutalizing and traumatic violence, deteriorated access to education, and health concerns.
“The international community cannot stand by and allow the murder of innocent men, women, and children to go unchallenged,” said Senator Cardin. “We will not give up on accountability and must bring Assad and all other perpetrators of gross human rights violations in the Syrian conflict to justice. These atrocities are being documented. In January, thousands of extremely disturbing images surfaced of Syrians tortured, detained and killed by the regime as they carried out systematic killing of detainees on an industrial scale.”
In April of this year, Senator Cardin introduced, the Syrian War Crimes Accountability Act of 2014, S. 2209 along with Senator’s Rubio and Kaine. The bill strongly condemns the ongoing violence, the use of chemical weapons, the targeting of civilian populations, and the systematic gross human rights violations carried out by both the Syrian government and opposition forces. This legislation would require the Secretary of State to provide Congress with a description of violations of internationally recognized human rights abuses and crimes against humanity committed during the conflict in Syria and report on U.S. efforts to train Syrians to build the case for war crimes. The Syrian War Crimes Accountability Act of 2014 sends a strong message to the international community that the United States is firmly committed to bringing all perpetrators of international crimes in Syria to justice.