Friends of Syria Should Extend Sanctions to Third Party Enablers of Syrian Atrocities
Washington, D.C. – This week’s meeting of Friends of the Syrian People International Working Group on Sanctions in Netherlands takes place against the backdrop of a continuously rising death toll in Syria and ongoing violence that shows no signs of abating. In the absence of UN Security Council agreement on an arms embargo or sanctions, the United States, European Union and others countries in the region are recognized for their ongoing efforts to isolate the murderous Assad regime through targeted sanctions. In considering how to strengthen the existing sanctions regimes, Human Rights First recommends that Friends of Syria countries present at this meeting commit to extending sanctions to third party enablers of Syrian atrocities. “Atrocities such as those planned and executed by the Assad regime over the past 18 months are pre-meditated crimes that require a continuous supply of resources such as weapons, ammunition, spare parts, fuel and access to international financial markets to pay for these resources. Each of these supply chains are made up of a host of actors that knowing and willingly or inadvertently continue to fuel the Syrian regime’s ability to kill civilians,” said Human Rights First’s Sadia Hameed. She added, “These actors and entities from transportation companies to financial institutions and insurance providers operate under jurisdictions outside of Syria and rely on access to international markets to do their business. This means they can be influenced through coordinated action by the countries present at the Friends of Syria meeting. Additional sanctions should be implemented to specifically target these intermediary actors and influence them to end their support for the Syrian regime. “ In addition, countries in the Friends of the Syrian People International Working Group on Sanctions should commit to new sanctions that would protect an incoming government from being held liable for the Assad regime’s existing contracts. Such action will send a clear signal to those countries who continue to support Assad that their agreements will not automatically be considered legitimate by a new Syrian government. This coordinated action by Friends of Syria countries can help further isolate the regime and cut off their access to the resources needed to perpetrate their crimes by changing the economic calculus for governments and companies who are currently considering new contracts with the Assad regime.