Caesar’s Law is a serious step towards justice pathway

After years of hard work, done by a group of Syrian and American organizations and entities; Caesar’s law was signed by U.S. President (Donald Trump) on 21-12-2019.

The law passed along with the U.S. Defence Budget Act 2020. It conveys protection of civilians in Syria, and imposes deterrent sanctions on the Syrian regime and the regime-affiliated perpetrators of war crimes , and on anyone who deals with or finances the Syrian government; the sanctions also include foreign personalities who financially support the regime by freezing their financial assets, preventing them from entering the United States, cancelling their visas as well.

The law was named after the military photographer who defected from the Syrian army to become known as (Caesar), using this anonym rather than his real name lest the revenge of Assad regime, since he endangered his life to smuggle out thousands of documented footages of tortured and murdered detainees inside Assad’s regime prisons from 2011 to 2014. However, Caesar dedicated his life to seek justice for those who suffered from the regime’s brutality.

Caesar photos got the attention of the world, as they were considered to provide forensic evidence by many countries. Yet, the international political balances around Syria led to declining interest in them, prompting Syrian and American organizations and bodies to raise this issue and push it forward through a law aimed at protecting civilians, ensuring that the crime won’t be repeated, besides releasing detainees.

The law has left opinions of refusal and acceptance by two parties:
The first: strongly supports it in order to protect civilians, deter Assad’s regime from perpetrating further brutalities, and to put an end to the gruesome conflict that has raged for years through enhancing accountability , and holding Assad’s regime responsible for the death of civilians on a large scale.

This party considers the law one of the most important international resolutions issued against the regime in Damascus. It is also a significant step towards achieving international justice, accountability, moreover, an introduction to get the international resolution on Syria back to the White House which, in turn, left the stage for Russia and Iran over the past few years.

The latter: dismisses the law as it does not directly affect the regime in Syria, but it will afflict, with a negative impact, the Syrian citizens, and make their lives as hell both inside Syria and abroad, and considers that this law is nothing but a new pressure card on the regime to make concessions in the political process without achieving little benefit for the Syrians, especially since it left the way open for a diplomatic settlement, as it allows the American President to lift the sanctions in case of :

  1. Not to use the airspace of Syria by the Syrian government or the Russian Federation to target civilians by using incendiaries, including explosive barrels, chemical weapons, and conventional arms, as well as air-guided missiles and explosive materials.
  2. Lifting isolation on the areas besieged by the Syrian government, government of the Russian Federation, or the Iranian government, allowing international aid to enter, and enabling these areas to get humanitarian aid, with freedom of movement and travel, and access to medical care.
  3. Releasing all political detainees who forcibly arrested throughout the prison system established by Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and allowing specialized international human rights organizations to have full access to those facilities in order to conduct investigations.
  4. The forces of the Syrian government, the government of the Russian Federation, the Iranian government, or any foreign person stop deliberately engaging in targeting medical facilities, schools, residential areas, and population centres, including markets violating international norms.
  5. The Syrian government allows the Syrians displaced by the conflict to have a safe, voluntary and dignified return.
  6. The Syrian government takes achievable steps to conduct purposeful accountability for war crimes perpetrators in Syria and brings fairness for victims of war crimes committed by Assad regime, including participation in providing authenticated and independent facts as well as in the reconciliation process.

The Association of Caesar Families expressed its opinion on this law through its chairwoman speech, Mrs. Maryam Al Hallaq, the mother of the martyr (Ayham Ghazoul), one of those who appeared in the photos that Caesar leaked, said :” undoubtedly, the law will limit the linkages between the regime and those who deal with it secretly and publicly alike, as well as the sanctions will affect security persons and the men of power, this also means that the Syrian people who are at home will be harmed and distressed more than what they are suffering now. ”

Likewise, Mr. Talaat Al-Hamoud, brother of a martyr died in detention, revealed: “The resolution is unreliable. Rather, they extend the life of the regime to complete their projects at the expense of the Syrian people, and we ask God to terminate Bashar al-Assad’s lifetime so that our tragedies will end up”.

Ms. Amal, wife of a martyr, believes that “the only victim is the Syrian people from such a resolution, so immediately after having been waved to pass it, the prices indescribably went again.”

Some of the association’s goals intersected with one of the conditions that must be implemented by the government in order to lift the sanctions, which is to release the detainees and seek transitional justice. Thereupon, will this law be the first real steps on the way of achieving justice and transferring Syria to the next stage that allows a peaceful transfer of power? Or, on the contrary, will it be a new scourge for the people who are still under the rule of the intelligence system?!!!

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