After Sarkozy tells Assad to go, rights group urges US, France, UK to press for UN Security Council referral of Syria to International Criminal Court

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PRESS RELEASE

Arab League mission to Syria called “toothless”

GENEVA, Jan. 3 – With French President Nicolas Sarkozy calling today for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to step aside for overseeing “disgusting” massacres, there should be stepped-up efforts in the UN Security Council to have Syrian leaders investigated for war crimes, urges a Geneva-based human rights group.

“Led by a former Sudanese general who himself has a highly questionable human rights record, the Arab League’s peace initiative has proven to be toothless with the Assad regime continuing to kill innocent civilians,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

“The UN Security Council is the only body that can have the International Criminal Court launch an investigation because Syria signed but never ratified the court’s founding Rome Statute.”

“Opposition to a referral by Russia and China, which hold veto power in the Security Council, will appear all the more misplaced if the Council’s other three permanent members—the United States, France and Britain—press the issue in the open.”

Sarkozy told an audience of French military personnel Tuesday the “massacres being committed by the Syrian regime” have aroused disgust around the world, and that Assad should allow Syrians to decide their own future, the Associated Press reported.

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the Security Council Dec. 13 that the widespread killings and torture in Syria “constituted crimes against humanity,” and that “there should be a referral to the International Criminal Court.”