Friday, 23 May 2014 17:10

Russia and China refuse refer Syria to the International Criminal Court

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Russia and China have vetoed a draft UN resolution calling for the crisis in Syria to be referred to the international criminal court – ignoring support for the measure by 65 other countries and all other members of the security council.

Thirteen of the security council's 15 members voted for the resolution. Russia and China both cast their vetoes – which are restricted to the five permanent members.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, called Syrian conflict an "extraordinarily brutal war" and warned that the UN's credibility would suffer if was unable to help end it.

It was the fourth time Russia had blocked a security council resolution on Syria, consistent with its defence of President Bashar al-Assad and his government from serious pressure or censure.

The Syrian conflict has cost an estimated 160,000 lives and displaced millions of people since it began in March 2011.
Jan Eliasson, the UN's deputy secretary general, said: "The Syrian people have a fundamental right to justice."

Sixty-five countries had appealed to all 193 UN member states to co-sponsor the resolution, under which the ICC would be authorised to investigate allegations of heinous crimes by the Syrian government, pro-government militias, and armed opposition groups.

"Moscow and Beijing can veto a resolution but they can't suppress the desire for justice by the Syrian people and the dozens of governments that stood for their rights," said Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch. "With the Syrian crisis entering a fourth year, atrocities raging on all sides, and the death toll skyrocketing well over 150,000, Russia and China's vote for continued impunity is a disgrace."

Source: Agencies.

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