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Former U.S. Ambassador Calls on French Judiciary to Uphold Arrest Warrant Against “Terrorist Bashar

Stephen Rapp stressed that immunity should not equate to impunity.
Former U.S. Ambassador Calls on French Judiciary to Uphold Arrest Warrant Against “Terrorist Bashar

Stephen Rapp, former U.S. ambassador to international criminal justice, urged the French judiciary to uphold the arrest warrant against terrorist Bashar al-Assad for complicity in crimes against humanity related to the chemical weapons attacks in Syria that claimed hundreds of victims in 2013.

In an article on the French website Mediapart, the human rights expert stressed that immunity should not equate to impunity. The Court of Appeal in Paris is slated to announce its decision on the appeal in this case on June 26th.

Rapp pointed out that while international law traditionally grants immunity to state officials for actions conducted in their official capacity, France does not recognize Assad as Syria’s legitimate representative. In 2012, France acknowledged the National Coalition of Opposition Forces as the sole representative of the Syrian people.

He emphasized that for a ban on chemical weapons to be effective, it must encompass Assad, who is suspected of flouting the ban for decades.

Syrian and international human rights organizations welcomed the statement condemning the French judiciary’s challenge to the validity of the arrest warrant against Assad. However, they deemed it insufficient to achieve justice for the Syrian people and resolve the protracted crisis spanning over 13 years.

The Office of the National Counterterrorism Prosecutor in France petitioned the Paris Court of Appeal to assess the validity of the arrest warrant against Bashar Assad for complicity in crimes against humanity stemming from the 2013 chemical attacks in Syria.

The prosecutor’s office contended that such a warrant should ideally be issued by a higher court like the International Criminal Court to circumvent potential legal ramifications. It underscored that the arrest warrant represents a departure from the principle of personal immunity enjoyed by heads of state, prime ministers, and foreign ministers in their respective sovereign states.

 

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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