Ambassador Harper: Statement at the Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Syria

Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Syria

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
Delivered by Ambassador Keith Harper
Human Rights Council

September 19, 2016

Mr. President,

Thank you.  The United States welcomes the on-going critical work of the Commission of Inquiry. The Commission once again describes appalling atrocities against men, women and children, including: the regime’s systematic and deliberate targeting of civilians, medical facilities, health care providers, first responders; restrictions of humanitarian assistance; torture; and the detention and disappearance of civilians.  According to the COI, the majority of the attacks against medical facilities have been carried out by pro-Government forces.  In Aleppo alone, 20 hospitals and clinics were destroyed since January with a devastating impact on civilians.

The COI has repeatedly documented the massive, synchronized nature of deaths in State-controlled detention facilities and concluded they amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes.  The Syrian regime continues to imprison tens of thousands of Syrians, subjecting many – including children – to torture and sexual violence.  We reiterate the many calls from UN bodies for the Syrian government to cease its egregious abuses against prisoners, and allow for immediate, unfettered access to and medical services for all detainees. We also echo the COI’s concerns about the tens of thousands of missing persons, and welcome its views on how this issue can be addressed.

We applaud the courageous Syrian human rights defenders who, despite grave risks, continue to document atrocities.  In addition to the COI’s excellent reporting, the international community must hear directly from Syrians, which is why the cosponsors of the resolution on Syria are calling for a high-level panel to allow for Syrian civil society to address the Council directly.

United with the Syrian and international community, we reiterate our call for an immediate end to all violations and abuses, as well as accountability for perpetrators of them, especially the egregious, widespread, and continued violations committed by the Asad regime. It is the Asad regime’s brutal suppression of democratic opposition forces and atrocities against civilians that allow terrorist groups like Da’esh to flourish.  Thank you Mr. President.