'Friends of Syria' must use their influence to stop cycle of repression and violence, urges rights group

Thursday, July 05, 2012
London: A day ahead of an international ‘Friends of Syria’ meeting in Paris, Amnesty International said that decisive steps are needed to end the increasingly “bloody cycle” of repression and abuse in Syria as the armed conflict threatens to further spread and intensify.

In a news release, the organization called for the imposition of an immediate arms embargo aimed at stopping the transfer of arms to the Syrian government, a Security Council referral of the situation to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, and an assets freeze on President Bashar al-Assad and his close associates.

The UK-based human rights group further said, “Amid growing reports of abuses by members of the armed opposition, states should also stop arms transfers to the opposition wherever there is a substantial risk that they are likely to be used for war crimes or other human rights abuses.”

Amnesty International has also called for a dedicated human rights monitoring presence in Syria to monitor, investigate and publicly report on crimes against humanity, war crimes and other grave human rights abuses committed by all sides.

“The time for mere talk and handwringing about Syria’s dire situation has long since passed, with in excess of 12,000 individuals already killed during more than 16 months of protest and unrest,” said Ann Harrison, Middle East and North Africa Programme Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

The ‘Friends of Syria’, led by France, the USA, Britain, Germany, and Arab nations Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is a contact group that brings together officials from international organizations and more than 60 countries, including most European Union and Arab League members and seeks to co-ordinate Western and Arab efforts to stop the violence in Syria.

“We expect the ‘Friends of Syria’ to leave this meeting in France with a clear plan to end crimes under international law and ensure justice, truth and full reparation for victims,” said Harrison.

He added, “They must exert influence on the UN Security Council to once and for all refer the situation to the ICC, impose an arms embargo that will stop the transfer of any arms and related equipment to the Syrian government, and to freeze the assets of President Bashar al-Assad and his senior associates.”
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