Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria, Should be Tried by the International Criminal Court for Crimes Against Humanity
By Joel D. Joseph
Rather than attacking Syria, and risking the lives of countless civilians, the United States and other nations should charge Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court. The United States, after charges are filed, could arrange for the arrest of Mr. Assad, by U.S. Rangers or Navy Seals.
The United States should not take the law into its own hands and unilaterally attack Syria. We are not the world's policeman. We should support the rule of law and see to it that Assad is charged, arrested and convicted of crimes against humanity for using poison gas on his own citizens.
Bashar Hafez al-Assad is the President of Syria and Regional Secretary of the Syrian-led branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party. He has served as President since June 10, 2000, when he succeeded his father, Hafex al-Assad, who ruled Syria for 30 years prior to his death.
Bashar al-Assad personally signed the Rome Statute for Syria on November 29, 2000. The Rome Statute created the International Criminal Court. Although the Syrian parliament never ratified the Rome Statute, the fact that Assad himself signed it should give the International Criminal Court jurisdiction over Mr. Assad.
The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide , crimes against humanity , war crimes and the crime of aggression . The Court is located inThe Hague , Netherlands, The Office of the Prosecutor is responsible for conducting investigations and prosecutions. It is headed by the Chief Prosecutor,
One of the great innovations of the Statute of the International Criminal Court and its Rules of Procedure and Evidence is the series of rights granted to victims. For the first time in the history of international criminal justice, victims have the possibility under the Statute to present their views and observations before the Court.
The Court has established an Office of Public Counsel for Victims, to provide support and assistance to victims and their legal representatives Article 79 of the Rome Statute establishes a Trust Fund to make financial reparations to victims and their families.
According to the Human Rights Watch, "the ICC has one of the most extensive lists of due process guarantees ever written," including "presumption of innocence; right to counsel ; right to present evidence and to confront witnesses; right to remain silent ; right to be present at trial; right to have charges proved beyond a reasonable doubt; and protection against double jeopardy." Unlike the International Court of Justice , the ICC is legally independent from the United Nations. However, but the United Nations can refer criminal matters to the court.
If the United States "arrests" President Assad, there will be a power vacuum in Damascus. This could present an opportunity to have a peace agreement and hopefully lead to the establishment of a constitution and free elections in Syria.
Our violent overreaction (shock and awe come to mind) to the claims of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq gravely harmed the reputation and of the United States. Many observers believe that we invaded Iraq for its massive oil reserves. If the United States handles this grave situation in Syria with minimal injuries to civilians, it will increase respect for America in the Arab world and reinforce the rule of law.