‘Name and humiliate’ three Syrian war criminals – The Organization for World Peace

Three senior Syrian military officials and their immediate families are barred from entering the United States because of their involvement in chemical warfare. According to the US State Department press release, Brigadier General Adnan Aboud Hilweh, Major General Ghassan Ahmed Ghannam and Major General Jawdat Saleebi Mawas helped orchestrate and execute the military operation that killed 1 400 people outside Damascus in the suburbs of Ghouta with sarin gas.

Follow their neighbors during the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, protests erupted in Syria and eventually turned into civilians war. According to Deutsche Welle, in August 2013, rebel groups held territory in Ghouta and the Syrian regime’s armed forces were unable to reclaim it. On August 21, 2013, four rockets desecrated the suburbs. Journalist Birgitta Schuelke says an initial UN investigation confirmed the rockets carried sarin gas but the UN was not allowed to name the perpetrator; however, international pressure helped the Syrian regime join the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and destroy its stockpiles. Despite the world’s best efforts, chemical warfare continued to occur during the conflict and no one has yet been brought to justice for the pain, suffering and loss of life inflicted.

In the October 24, 2022 press release, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken “remembers and honors the victims and survivors” of the determined chemical attacks that took place during the Civil War and “calls on the Assad regime” to stand adhere to the standards set by the OPCW. Blinken also reaffirmed that the United States “will continue to support Syrian-led efforts and international efforts to ensure there are consequences for ongoing human rights violations and abuses” and to “support and support the Syrian people in their demands for human rights and fundamental freedoms”. ”

The State Department’s decision and Blinken’s statement coincide with Section 7031 of the Department of State Appropriations, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Act, which states that if the Secretary of State “has ‘credible information that a foreign official has been involved…with significant corruption and/or gross violation of human rights’, the United States can prevent them from entering its borders. Sanctions, like visa restrictions, are a non-violent and safe way to hold international criminals accountable for their actions, but are often criticized for several reasons. In an article for Just Security, Benjamin Press, a research assistant in the Democracy, Conflict and Governance program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, celebrates these sanctions for their ability to “name and shame” individuals who have committed crimes.

But he fears ‘fragmented judicial authorities have hampered the use of public visa bans’ as there is no consistent decision to publicize cases that do not neatly line up with significant human rights abuses. or corruption. While there are instances where a private ban is preferable, Press says creating a more specific framework to publicize those with U.S. visa restrictions and denials can help the U.S. “attract attention.” attention to a range of undemocratic behavior, impose costs on those responsible, and encourage other governments to follow suit.” A bill, HR 5209 – Counter-Kleptocracy Act, was introduced in 2021 that would allow the Secretary of State to determine on a case-by-case basis whether or not to publicly share visa restrictions and denials.

Although non-violent and diplomatic tools, including visa restrictions, have been criticized for their ineffectiveness, such as legal loopholes that deteriorate their strength, the three men named in the recent press release have been publicly “named and humiliated”. for crimes against humanity. Given that this means the Secretary of State has credible reason to believe that they are responsible for the 2013 sarin gas attack in Ghouta, it suggests that there is enough evidence to bring official charges against these men in a formal court. According The New York Times, German courts, which have a reputation for prosecuting those who have committed war crimes, have been working hard to gather evidence and bring more cases to trial in order to hold Syrian war criminals accountable. Let’s hope the world continues to see countries work together publicly to draw attention to and prosecute perpetrators of human rights abuses and that the United States can work with Germany and its other allies to fight for justice. .

Aubrey L. Morgan