Russia and China's vetoing of Syria ICC vote condemned as 'callous'

Damaged buildings in a besieged area of Homs © REUTERS/Yazan Homsy
‘The vetoes by Russia and China are a callous political move that betrays suffering people in Syria’ - Philip Luther
Russia and China’s vetoing of a United Nations resolution this afternoon which had called for  the situation in Syria to be referred to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), has been condemned by Amnesty International as “callous”.
Russia and China have vetoed three previous Security Council resolutions on Syria since the crisis began.
The latest failure has exposed flaws in the Security Council decision-making process and seriously calls into question the body’s ability to offer any real prospects of safety for civilians or of a justice, truth and reparation process for the victims of the conflict in Syria.  It took nearly three years for the first UN resolution on Syria to address the abysmal humanitarian crisis unfolding in the country. Resolution 2139, passed this February, called for immediate humanitarian access and an end to human rights abuses. Two months on, the terms of that resolution are being openly flouted. 
Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Director Philip Luther said:
“The vetoes by Russia and China are a callous political move that betrays suffering people in Syria. 
“The resolution would have allowed the ICC to step in to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by all sides to the conflict.
“A crucial opportunity for justice has been squandered. 
“Once again, Russia and China have abandoned the Syrian people for the sake of salvaging political alliances.
“Not only does this move risk emboldening those who are committing crimes with impunity, but it is yet another sign of how the international community is failing Syrians.” 
Amnesty is calling for the Security Council to take concrete action, such as imposing targeted sanctions against individuals of all parties who are deemed responsible for the commission of crimes under international law and are failing to ensure the resolution is being implemented on the ground.

Sieges continue

Despite the lifting of the siege on the Old City of Homs earlier this month and a slight improvement in humanitarian assistance, many other civilians remain under siege. Around 20,000 civilians are besieged in Yarmouk, south of Damascus, where, according to Amnesty’s research, more than 260 people have died from siege-related deaths since it was tightened last July - at least 70 of them since the resolution was passed on 22 February. 
Arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture and deaths in custody - including in the custody of armed groups - have also continued. A call in the February UN resolution for the release of all detainees arbitrarily held and abducted, including prisoners of conscience, has also not been heeded.

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