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house Bill H. Con. Res. 121

Does the U.S. Need to Encourage the Formation of a Syrian War Crimes Tribunal?

Argument in favor

The U.S. needs to encourage its international partners and the United Nations to create a war crimes tribunal to punish those who have committed atrocities against civilians in Syria.

BTSundra's Opinion
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03/22/2016
The Syrians have committed many war crimes against civilians and must pay for it.
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Jake's Opinion
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03/15/2016
Look we all know how long it took to find and prosecute Nazi war criminals, which was a time when locating those on the run was far less achievable than it is now with modern technology. The sooner we're working on establishing this counsel the easier it will be to line up those in the wrong. One "consequence," if you will, of this is that we may have to begin legislating against radical Muslims in various areas because of the rapid spread of indoctrination everywhere. Let's get the ball rolling and pass this bill through the House before we lose ground abroad.
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Kimmi's Opinion
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03/19/2016
Of course, but they won't since they've taken part in war crimes in Syria. Furthermore, would they judge crimes based on international standards or by which ones fit and do not fit their interests in Syria?
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Argument opposed

When the Syrian conflict eventually comes to an end, the global community can convene a war crimes tribunal, but until then it’d be impractical to prosecute the offenders.

Alis's Opinion
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03/17/2016
Good grief! What a waste of time! Since George W. decided to destabilize the entire region & then went back to Texas to hide & paint bad artwork, we haven't been able to decide what to do in the Middle East, much less in Syria. Let's put off making grandiose moral stands until AFTER we have decided to take our heads out of our collective asses. After the 3 or 4 generations it will take to clean up the mess we created this will be appropriate but right now it's irrelevant!
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StratonGarrard's Opinion
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03/17/2016
The war is not yet completed, and few key instigators have been apprehended. This is a measure that should be taken once this war is finished with a joint military tribunal that is represented by all our allies involved in the conflict, not just us.
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Thomas's Opinion
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08/29/2016
When did Syria become a US territory? The federal government doesn't want to do much about ISS but it wants to put the Syrian government on trial! To many stupid people in Washington!
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What is House Bill H. Con. Res. 121?

This resolution condemns the unlawful use of violence against civilians by the government of Syria, and urges the U.S. to support efforts to collect information about ongoing human rights violations and crimes against humanity to support future war crimes trials. It also encourages the U.S. and its partners to work towards stopping such attacks, and establish additional mechanisms to protect civilians while providing access to humanitarian aid.

The President would be urged to direct the U.S. representative to the United Nations to promote the establishment of a tribunal to investigate war crimes committed by the Syrian government, its allies, and other parties to the conflict. Additionally, other nations would be encouraged to apprehend and deliver into tribunal custody persons indicted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide in Syria.

As a concurrent resolution, this legislation could advance to the Senate if passed by the House, but even if it is approved by both chambers it would neither be considered binding law nor require a signature by the President.

Impact

The U.S. government, the United Nations, and other nations that would assist in gathering information about war crimes in Syria and prosecuting those crimes.

Cost of House Bill H. Con. Res. 121

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced this bill to hasten the establishment of a war crimes tribunal to find and prosecute the members of the Assad government, its allies, and other parties to the conflict for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide:

“The world has been shocked by gross human rights violations, including summary executions, torture, and rape reported in the news. The U.N. Security Council should move immediately to establish a Syrian war crimes tribunal and my resolution calls upon the Administration to pursue this policy goal including using our voice and vote at the U.N.”

This legislation was passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee by unanimous consent, and it currently enjoys the support of three Republicans and one Democrat cosponsor.


Of Note: Since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War, there have been numerous allegations of human rights violations being committed. According to Amnesty International, Syrian government forces have indiscriminately bombed civilian areas and utilized cluster bombs which have been banned internationally. Additionally, opposition forces have committed summary executions and abuse against captured government soldiers.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user FreedomHouse)

Official Title

Expressing the sense of the Congress condemning the gross violations of international law amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Government of Syria, its allies, and other parties to the conflict in Syria, and asking the President to direct his Ambassador at the United Nations to promote the establishment of a war crimes tribunal where these crimes could be addressed.

concurrent resolution Progress


  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Foreign Relations
  • The house Passed March 14th, 2016
    Roll Call Vote 392 Yea / 3 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
    IntroducedMarch 1st, 2016

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    The Syrians have committed many war crimes against civilians and must pay for it.
    Like (21)
    Follow
    Share
    Good grief! What a waste of time! Since George W. decided to destabilize the entire region & then went back to Texas to hide & paint bad artwork, we haven't been able to decide what to do in the Middle East, much less in Syria. Let's put off making grandiose moral stands until AFTER we have decided to take our heads out of our collective asses. After the 3 or 4 generations it will take to clean up the mess we created this will be appropriate but right now it's irrelevant!
    Like (10)
    Follow
    Share
    Look we all know how long it took to find and prosecute Nazi war criminals, which was a time when locating those on the run was far less achievable than it is now with modern technology. The sooner we're working on establishing this counsel the easier it will be to line up those in the wrong. One "consequence," if you will, of this is that we may have to begin legislating against radical Muslims in various areas because of the rapid spread of indoctrination everywhere. Let's get the ball rolling and pass this bill through the House before we lose ground abroad.
    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
    Of course, but they won't since they've taken part in war crimes in Syria. Furthermore, would they judge crimes based on international standards or by which ones fit and do not fit their interests in Syria?
    Like (7)
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    Share
    The war is not yet completed, and few key instigators have been apprehended. This is a measure that should be taken once this war is finished with a joint military tribunal that is represented by all our allies involved in the conflict, not just us.
    Like (6)
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    When did Syria become a US territory? The federal government doesn't want to do much about ISS but it wants to put the Syrian government on trial! To many stupid people in Washington!
    Like (5)
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    The situation is too volatile right now to call for a tribunal - as we are trying to get peace talks up and running, we do not want to give the Assad regime further reason to back away from the table. Atrocities were committed, but we need peace and safety before justice can be served.
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    We can't let their crimes go unnoticed.
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    War crimes and crimes against humanity cannot be ignored, and if nothing is done when a dictator uses chemical weapons agains their own people to maintain power, expect this to happen more and more frequently. After WW II it was shown that "just following orders" isn't an excuse and that has kept us far safer than any golden rule can. We can't charge them on our own, but it's time to dust off the old courtroom gavels in Switzerland, Sweden or the Netherlands, and start putting people on trial. If we wait till the end, what if it doesn't? And think of the lives lost waiting for an end to come.
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    Right now, this would be a strategic step back in working with Russia and Iran to defeat ISIS. We've begun to make progress with them in fighting ISIS, but accusing them of war crimes (despite how true those accusations may be) is harmful to our own objectives. We need to choose our battles, and if we wish to prioritize ISIS, then we need Russia's help and not their aggression. If not, then we should go ahead. But it needs to be understood that we can't have it both ways.
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    In the world today, no one should feel immune when committing mass killings and heinous crimes on a population scale. Syria is the biggest exodus of the 21st-century thus far. Estimates of that about 500,000 civilians were killed by the Asaad Regime. Everything from barrel bombs to chemical weapons was used against harmless Syrian civilians. I think perpetrators are worthy of being prosecuted, to the maximum allowed by law. These things do take their time, for example one of the responsible about the Bosnian genocide was convicted only couple of months ago. And the tribunal on assassination of Lebanon's president isn't over yet. So the sooner the better.
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    As one of the permanent members of the security council, we should hold all sides accountable especially the government of Syria for the human rights violations committed against the civilians of Syria and its previous record of restricting free speech and the right of protesters to demand a democracy.
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    As a member of the United Nations it is our responsibility to hold people accountable for crimes against humanity.
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    Yes! Daesh has committed truly horrific atrocities against several different ethnic and/or religious groups: beheading, burning alive, drowning, dropping from rooftops of tall buildings, and using chemical weapons are some of these crimes against humanity. They make no distinction between combatants and non-combatants. They have shown no mercy to women, children, or the aged. They have, in fact, behaved in a most barbaric way - like animals!
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    I would be in favor if it was inclusive to all players in the party and not just the Syrian government
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    What has happened in Syria is horrific. We need to stand up against such atrocities.
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    Yes, I support that the surviving thugs and gangsters of the Daesh and the butchers of Assad government-and Assad himself-be dragged into a courtroom, their crimes against humanity revealed, and the appropriate punishment meted.
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    It's cool when the big dog on the block looks out for the little guy that gets picked on by bully's. It makes everyone like the big dog and that helps down the road ... Big dogs should create moral equity so we can use that as leverage when we need to call in a favor
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    Let's try Obama and Clinton for crimes first.
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    Again we are not the world police. Let the UN do that. How are u going to do anything productive over there right now? That's silly
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