COI Will Continue Its Work Documenting Widespread Crimes Against the People of Syria

Statement by the United States Delegation
to the Human Rights Council

Delivered by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe

September 28, 2012

(Note: The resolution to renew the COI mandate was adopted by a vote of 41 / 3 / 3 )

The United States is proud to co-sponsor this resolution and thanks the main sponsors Morocco, Qatar and other members of the Arab Group for their leadership.

As you all know – the Human Rights Council began focusing on the human rights calamity in Syria in April 2011 with our first Special Session on the topic.  Sadly as this 21st Council Session comes to a close, Assad continues to cling to power, and his campaign of brutality has sparked a deepening humanitarian crisis. We cannot afford to be silent.

This resolution strengthens our support for the work of the Commission of Inquiry, instituted by this Council more than a year ago.  The COI has been doing its job – documenting widespread and systematic crimes against the people of Syria.  In its current report to the Council, the COI has found that the crimes committed against the Syrian people are indicative of a deliberate state policy of collective punishment. The COI has also found that reasonable ground exist to believe that Government forces and the Shabbiha, have committed crimes against humanity, war crimes, and gross violations of international humanitarian law.   With respect to its investigation of the specific case of Al-Houla, the COI was able to determine that Government forces, acting in concert with Shabbiha members, were responsible for the massacre in which dozens of women and children were killed.

The work of the COI is important because as they continue to document the names of individuals responsible for these crimes and violations, they help ensure that this will not be a case where impunity prevail, but rather that those responsible for these crimes against the Syrian people will face justice and accountability.