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senate Bill S. 756

Does There Need to be Accountability for War Crimes Committed in Syria?

Argument in favor

People and institutions who commit war crimes and human rights abuses in Syria need to be held accountable. The U.S. has a humanitarian obligation and the resources to do so.

operaman's Opinion
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10/02/2015
Yes, but not from the US. Use International Courts.
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Kathy's Opinion
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10/06/2015
Yes, but we are talking about this weak, feckless President who has his thin "red line" strangling the middle east, we know it will not happen. This is what happens when the American people disengage from what is happening in the world. Called APATHY!
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10/07/2015
These crimes do need to be addressed by the UN, but the US is the only superpower in the world right now. If we lend our voice to an issue, more will be done about it.
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Argument opposed

It isn’t America’s place to try and bring justice to war criminals and those who commit crimes against humanity in Syria. These violations need to be addressed by the United Nations.

chrisbroach's Opinion
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10/03/2015
This is the UN's job. The US can play a role in that, but we should not be the sole judge and jury. We have too many of our own war crimes to judge anyone else's.
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LibertyForAll's Opinion
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10/04/2015
Not our responsibility... Force the UN to do their job.
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MeganEHolstein's Opinion
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10/08/2015
Perhaps this bill can be adjusted to make it a UN issue so the UN can actually be changed for the better
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What is Senate Bill S. 756?

This bill would require the President (through the State Dept.) to submit two reports to Congress about war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria. The first report would be delivered within 90 days of this bill’s enactment, and the second within 180 days of the conflict’s end.

The report would include descriptions of:

  • War crimes, crimes against humanity, and violations of internationally recognized human rights during the civil war in Syria;

  • Efforts by the State Dept. and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to ensure accountability for violations of human rights, international law, and crimes against humanity.

The documented violations could be committed by President Bashar al-Assad's government, violent extremist groups, and other combatants involved in the conflict.

This bill also includes condemnations of the ongoing violence, the use of chemical weapons, the targeting of civilian populations, and human rights abuses. It urges a halt to attacks against civilians, supports democratic change, and calls for international investigations into human rights abuses and war crimes.

Impact

Victims of war crimes in Syria, journalists covering the civil war in Syria, the State Dept., the President, and Congress.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 756

$500.00 Thousand
The CBO estimates that this bill would cost less than $500,000 over the 2016-2020 period.

More Information

Of Note: Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria in 2011 more than 200,000 people have been killed, as many as 85,000 of whom were civilians. The Assad government has systematically tortured more than 10,000 Syrians in its prisons. There have been numerous instances of chemical weapons — including sarin gas, mustard gas, and chlorine gas — being used against opposition forces, Kurdish fighters, and the Assad government. Both the use of chemical weapons and the deliberate targeting of civilians are considered war crimes, and torture is considered to be a crime against humanity.

Matters became even more complicated when the Russian military began carrying out airstrikes on behalf of the Assad government against opposition forces and ISIS. Some international law experts have suggested that Russia could face charges for war crimes and crimes against humanity for its efforts to assist the Assad regime.

The U.S. had been providing weaponry to the Syrian opposition since 2014, but is now unlikely to protect them from Russian airstrikes.


In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) criticized the conduct of both the Assad government and opposition forces in the ongoing conflict: 

“The war tactics employed in Syria by both government and opposition forces fly in the face of the rules of war. We must shine a light on the atrocities that have been committed in Syria and demand accountability. Ignoring these violations sends a message to the global community that war crimes and crimes against humanity are tolerable… The United States cannot stand idly by and allow the gross violation of human rights in Syria to go unchallenged. We remain firmly committed to bringing all perpetrators of international crimes in Syria to justice.”

The Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee passed this bill unanimously, and the Senate passed it with unanimous consent. Six Senators have signed onto this bill as cosponsors, and the lone Republican amongst them is presidential contender Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: "Free Syrian Army soldier walking among rubble in Aleppo" by Voice of America News: Scott Bobb reports from Aleppo, Syria - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yikVv_YAvE&feature=plcp. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons)

AKA

Syrian War Crimes Accountability Act of 2015

Official Title

A bill to require a report on accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
  • The senate Passed July 14th, 2015
    Passed by Voice Vote
      senate Committees
      Committee on Foreign Relations
    IntroducedMarch 17th, 2015

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    Yes, but not from the US. Use International Courts.
    Like (26)
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    This is the UN's job. The US can play a role in that, but we should not be the sole judge and jury. We have too many of our own war crimes to judge anyone else's.
    Like (16)
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    Not our responsibility... Force the UN to do their job.
    Like (9)
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    Yes, but we are talking about this weak, feckless President who has his thin "red line" strangling the middle east, we know it will not happen. This is what happens when the American people disengage from what is happening in the world. Called APATHY!
    Like (4)
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    There will be accountability but the question remains who gets to enforce what. There are many bad guys on every side except those who are victims. Assad is evil but so is ISIS and many of the moderates are in the same camp.
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    The UN exists for this purpose
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    These crimes do need to be addressed by the UN, but the US is the only superpower in the world right now. If we lend our voice to an issue, more will be done about it.
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    That's fine but do they know exactly who committed the crimes! Which individuals? Name them! Or are the just talking Assad? Which of his generals! Name them and what they are responsible for! As for Isis! Any and all members and associates if ISIS should be hunted down and killed on the spot without trial!
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    Yes to accountability, but by the United Nations!
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    War crimes should always be pursued by the international courts.
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    Since we have apparently decided to be at war eternally and fail to hold ourselves accountable for the mess The W. Administration created in the Middle East, it seems unlikely that we won't decide to police war crimes. Someone should but it 1!) is it really our job? and 2) are we credible given that we have historically supported repressive regimes and destroyed democratically elected governments if they opposed US business interests? It would be a darlin' thing if we could get realism & balance in our foreign policy.
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    Yes but according to the Geneva Conventions only the United Nations Security Council can hold other nations, groups, or individuals accountable for war crimes.
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    Perhaps this bill can be adjusted to make it a UN issue so the UN can actually be changed for the better
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    War crimes what a crock of shit
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    What goes on in another country is none of our business.
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    As permanent members of the UN Security Council and as a supposed "democracy" we should hold Syria accountable. We must not forget that the current civil war in Syria was triggered by Assad's violent response to peaceful protesters who demanded government reform and for democracy. Also they used illegal weapons against their own people. Nerve agents, bombings and violent crackdowns in the early days.
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    Yes. Other nations have been held accountable for war crimes, Syria shouldn't be any different.
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    No because of the cost and because of the fact that war crimes not perpetrated against US soldiers/civilians should not be tried by the US. The UN has a system set up for this. Use that system.
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    Stay out of others affairs. The UN has been useless for anything thing except helping enemies of the USA!!
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    We should only do so after the UN starts playing a bigger role instead of relying on our military personnel to police the world, and then we can start taking accountability.
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