Statement by The Syrian Women’s Political Movement on the United Nations Report on Sexual Violence in Syria

On March 15, on the occasion of the seventh anniversary of the Syrian revolution, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (COI) submitted its report on sexual and gender-based violence in Syria. The report highlighted that kind of violence practiced by the conflicting parties, from March 2011 to December 2017. The report concluded that the Syrian regime and militias affiliated thereto have systematically committed sexual and gender-based violence in Syria against thousands of women, girls, men and boys. The COI showed that the regime bears the greatest responsibility for such acts, which amount to crimes against humanity.

SWPM, in its comment on the report reiterates that these heinous crimes, which are clearly stated in the UN report, are part of an obvious strategy to spread fear and humiliate and punish those considered by the regime opposition or even sympathize with the opposition.

These crimes have not been committed only in detention centers, but also during land invasions, house raids and at checkpoints. Today, so many civilians face the same risks. In the absence of any strict international actions to protect them, thousands of girls, women, children and men will inevitably be subjected to the same atrocities mentioned in the report.

Today, innocent civilians who have undergone the repeated systematic crimes perpetrated by the Syrian regime suffer from the physical and psychological repercussions of those crimes. We may never be able to help those Syrians who have been subject to those ugly crimes to recover their physical and psychological health; however, we can still save many others from facing the same fate, if international laws and standards were enforced for once in Syria.

On the other hand, the international community must pursue all possible venues to ensure holding all perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria accountable, which is a key factor for any sustainable and effective political solution.

Therefore, SEPM calls on the international community to do the following:

•        Take all necessary and urgent measures to enforce international instruments which provide for the protection of civilians from the ugly crimes of violence perpetrated by the Syrian regime and its allies, especially against women and children, all over Syria.

•        Put pressure on the Syrian regime to release all detained women and men because of their political and relief activities, and to disclose the fate of the forcibly disappeared women and men.

•        Support all means of accountability, either through international and national prosecution, or through establishing ad hoc tribunal by virtue of a resolution by the United Nations General Assembly to prosecute war criminals.

Syrian women’s Political Movement

March 20, 2018