The Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) calls for starting concrete efforts towards accountability and justice on the use of chemical weapons in Syria
On Wednesday, March, the 8th 2020, IIT of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons issued its first report which was based on a strict methodology of analysis and a multitude of evidence. This report indicated the responsibility of the Syrian Air force for three incidents in which the latter used chemical weapons in Syria on the 24th, 25th and the 30th of March 2017. In two incidents, the Syrian Air force used Sarin gas, while in the third it committed a double crime by bombing a hospital in the northern countryside of Hama with a munition loaded with Chlorine, killing a doctor and injuring thirty people.
This report issued by such an investigation body from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is a new document added to a long list of evidence of crimes committed by the forces of the Syrian government.
The report is not the first issued by an international body condemning the Syrian Air force. The Joint Investigation Mechanism (JIM) formed by UNSC resolution 2235 in August 2015, and its fourth report issued in October 2016, confirmed the responsibility of the Syrian Air force for four attacks it had investigated. An additional report was issued by the same mechanism in October 2017 laying the responsibility of the Syrian Air force for the incident of the 4th of April 2017 in Khan Sheikhoun, where more than 100 people were killed, and 500 were injured.
These former reports failed to put the file of using chemical weapons in Syria on any track of justice and accountability. On the contrary, Russia vetoed the renewal of the mandate of the Joint Investigation Mechanism (JIM) in the United Nations Security Council, along with the previous, media campaigns attacking the findings of these reports and discrediting the investigation bodies work on these incidents that have been conducted.
The repeated use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government forces (SGF) is a clear violation of article 23 of the Hague 1899 agreement and of the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons which Syria had ratified by the end of 2013 following the massacre committed by the SGF in Eastern Ghouta in August 2013. Despite the claims of the Syrian regime of destroying its arsenal of chemical weapons, the reports issued successively about using chemical weapons in Syria assured that using chemical weapons in Syria would not stop unless a strict mechanism of accountability is established. The Douma attack in April 2018, that killed more than 40 persons and injured more than 400, is solid evidence that the arsenal of chemical weapons of the SGF is still capable of implementing further strikes ignoring the international conventions.
The Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) urgently calls for:
1- The repeated usage of chemical weapons against residential areas in Syria amounts to be classified as a crime of genocide, and clearly calls for activating the commitment to responsibility to protect civilians from genocide in line with its third pillar of the commitment of the 2005 summit, which defines the responsibility of the international community in case the state fails to protect its citizens. A commitment that is already signed by the Syrian Arab Republic. This calls for a serious and urgent action by the international community toward justice and accountability.
2- The Russian federation, and the People’s Republic of China to stop using vetoes against the referral of the crimes committed in Syria to the ICC and to hold the perpetrators of these crimes accountable. Those vetoes obstruct the efforts to reach a political solution leading to a sustainable peace in Syria.