Interview with Kenneth Roth: “These are clearly crimes against humanity”
15 February 2012
Deutsche Welle interviewed Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of ICRtoP Steering Committee Member Human Rights Watch.
(…)The situation does seem indeed to be degenerating toward civil war, nonetheless the largest death toll has been by people who are simply exercising their right to speak out and to protest on behalf of human rights and democracy.
(…) And so our call for the involvement of the International Criminal Court has become more urgent than ever. These are clearly crimes against humanity being committed by Syrian security forces, by the commanders who are ordering this kind of slaughter. (…)
And we hope that frankly one lesson to be learned from Russia's and China's veto is that there is a need for a new norm at the UN Security Council that the permanent members will not use their veto in situations were mass atrocities are being committed. (...) And the lack of a more responsible norm at the Security Council is today being felt painfully by the Syrian people. (...)
I think it's wrong to say that there isn't any action. It's important to remember that the Responsibility to Protect - which clearly is activated by the level of atrocities in Syria - is not simply about military action. It's about a range of steps by the international community to step in and put pressure on a government that is failing in its own responsibility to protect its people. In this case Syria is not even trying to protect its people, it's been killing the people. So there is a duty to act.
But we have seen I think unprecedented positive action by the Arab League for example which has imposed sanctions which has fought to deploy observers and did for a while and which most recently has proposed peacekeepers although Syria today rejected that action. So there has been a lot of action locally. The European Union, the US government and others have imposed sanctions and these are all positive steps that are a sort of ratcheting up of pressure on Damascus under the Responsibility to Protect. Clearly it's insufficient so far and there is a need to find additional ways to increase the pressure until if not Assad than at least those around recognize that there is no future through this path of violent repression and that there is going to be a need to come to some accommodation with those who envision a more democratic future for Syria. (…)
Read the full interview.