IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
April 3, 2014
Mr. Cardin (for himself, Mr. Rubio, Mr. Kaine, and Mrs. Shaheen) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations
To require a report on accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria.
This Act may be cited as the
Syrian War Crimes Accountability Act of 2014
Congress makes the following findings:
On February 22, 2014, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2139 recognizing the escalating level of violence in Syria.
Credible sources estimate the death of more than 140,000 people in Syria, including 10,000 children.
On February 27, 2014, the Department of State issued its 2013 Human Rights Report on
Syria, which described President Bashar al Assad’s use of
indiscriminate and deadly force in the conflict, including the August 21, 2013, use of
sarin gas and artillery to target East Ghouta and Moadamiya al-Sham, suburbs of Damascus, which
killed over 1,000 people.
The United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic reports that pro-government forces have conducted attacks on Syrian civilian populations, and have utilized murder, torture, assault, and rape as war tactics. Anti-government groups have also committed murder and torture, engaged in hostage-taking, attacked protected objects, and shelled civilian neighborhoods.
Internationally accepted rules of war require actors to distinguish between civilians and combatants and that all parties adhere to the principle of medical neutrality whereby both sides ensure unhindered access to medical care.
Sense of Congress
strongly condemns the ongoing violence, use of chemical weapons, targeting of civilian populations with barrel, incendiary and cluster bombs, and SCUD missiles, and systematic gross human rights violations carried out by Government of Syria and pro-government forces under the direction of President Bashar al-Assad, as well as abuses committed by violent extremist groups and other combatants involved in the civil war in Syria;
expresses its support for the people of Syria seeking democratic change;
urges all parties to the conflict to immediately halt indiscriminate attacks on civilians;
calls on the President to support efforts in Syria and on the part of the international community to ensure accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the conflict; and
calls for a United Nations Security Council investigation into gross violations of human rights and war crimes committed during the Syrian conflict.
Report on accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity in syria
Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and again not later than 180 days after the cessation of violence in Syria, the Secretary of State shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria.
The report required under paragraph (1) shall include the following elements:
A description of violations of internationally recognized human rights and crimes against humanity perpetrated during the civil war in Syria, including—
an account of the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad;
an account of the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by violent extremist groups and other combatants in the conflict; and
a description of the conventional and unconventional weapons used for such crimes and, where possible, the origins of the weapons.
A description of efforts by the Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development to ensure accountability for violations of internationally recognized human rights and crimes against humanity perpetrated against the people of Syria by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, violent extremist groups, and other combatants involved in the conflict, including—
a description of initiatives that the United States Government has undertaken to train investigators in Syria on how to document, investigate, and develop findings of war crimes, including the number of United States Government or contract personnel currently designated to work full-time on these issues and an identification of the authorities and appropriations being used to support training efforts;
a description of the strategy and implementation efforts to ensure accountability for crimes committed during the Syrian conflict, including efforts to promote the establishment of an ad hoc tribunal to prosecute the perpetrators of war crimes committed during the civil war in Syria; and
an assessment of the impact of those initiatives.
Appropriate congressional committee defined
In this section, the term appropriate congressional committees means—
the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate; and
the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives.