US Senators call for ‘hybrid tribunal’ for Syrian war crimes
A group of senators from both parties – Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), and Todd Young (R-Indiana) – introduced the Syrian War Crimes Accountability Act on Friday, aimed at investigation of “war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Syria” and bringing Syrian President Bashar Assad to justice for his “heinous acts.” The authors of the bill are calling on the Secretary of State to assist investigations into the crimes, including setting up “a potential hybrid tribunal” as part of “credible transitional justice efforts.”
The senators defined the term “hybrid tribunal” as “a temporary criminal tribunal that involves a combination of domestic and international lawyers, judges, and other professionals to prosecute individuals suspected of committing war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide.”
Despite all appeals for investigation, the authors blame the Syrian regime – Assad personally – and its allies for “barbaric” attacks, war crimes, and brutality over the six years since the conflict in the country started. The recent chemical attack in Idlib Province, which killed up to 86 civilians and provoked the US strike on a Syrian air base on Friday, is also attributed to the Syrian government forces. No conclusive evidence to support the claims has been made public. The Syrian government, as well as Russia, have rejected the allegations, saying that it was a Syrian airstrike hitting a warehouse used by terrorists to produce and store weaponized chemicals.
Commenting on the initiative, one of the senators, Menendez, called it “another step forward to produce that well-crafted strategy that serves American national security interests and responds to a threat against our common humanity and the international order.” Another author, former presidential candidate Marco Rubio, considers it “a first step towards ensuring accountability for the human rights violations inflicted against innocent civilians in Syria.”
Another one of the authors recently drew attention in the Senate with a jab against RT and Sputnik. Last week, Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen promoted a bill comparing the two news agencies to Nazi propaganda. She claimed they were “designed to undermine our democracy” and blamed them for Russia’s alleged meddling in the US presidential election.