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For Immediate Release

PHR Asks to Refer Syrian Crisis to the International Criminal Court

Media Contact

Vesna Jaksic Lowe, MS

Media Relations Manager, New York
Tel: 917-679-0110

New York, NY - 06/03/2013

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is calling on the United Nations Security Council to refer the escalating Syrian conflict to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in order to hold perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity accountable.

PHR is supporting House Resolution 229, a bipartisan bill co- sponsored by Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), which calls on the court’s prosecutor to investigate the situation in Syria and charge those responsible for the crimes.

“The magnitude and nature of the atrocities taking place in Syria demand an investigation by the International Criminal Court,” said Hans Hogrefe, PHR’s chief policy officer and Washington director.  “Referring the escalating conflict in Syria to the ICC is a crucial step for ensuring those responsible for heinous human rights violations are brought to justice, so that these kinds of attacks do not go unpunished. It sends an unequivocal message from the international community that the bloodshed in Syria must stop.”

The Syrian conflict has led to an estimated 70,000 deaths, about 2.5 million people being displaced, and countless others being subjected to sexual violence and torture. PHR has documented attacks on the medical community in Syria, including torture and killings of health care providers and deliberate obstruction of necessary medical treatment.

The ICC is a permanent court designed to try perpetrators of the world’s worst crimes when national governments are unwilling or unable to do so. Syria is not a member of the ICC and therefore a referral by the UN Security Council is necessary for the Court to have jurisdiction over the situation.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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