tv Forum Focuses on Syrian Presidents Role in War Crimes CSPAN August 2, 2016 10:58pm-12:32am EDT
of big government is over. years, the budget was balanced. withwould argue that even all those dollars, they balance the budget with clinton signing onto welfare reform. hillary clinton will have a hard time running on her husband's record. host: thank you. guest: i asked for a better conservative philosopher and ringo, someone showed up on the phone line. look, back then you had a congress and president that were more willing to work with each other. have aose they did famous budget standoff in 1995. i think bill clinton understood that the country was oriented towards the center right and he
reoriented himself towards that so he could get things done. i think results speak for themselves. i don't see hillary clinton as that kind of a person. barack obama did not triangulate after he lost the house or senate. i don't see hillary clinton as somebody who will triangulate in the face of congress and control of the party. donald trump see that way, either. we have entered an era in politics where ideological lines are drawn so strongly and the penalties for crossing them are so onerous that you have to have one party in charge in order to get everything accomplished. which is not the greatest thing in the world. i think marco rubio's experience in your public party is a great demonstration.
he was trying to get something done on immigration so he could get it off the table and that is the reason why voters in florida sent him to washington. to get things done. and look how that played out for him? he ended up being washed out of the presidential race. i don't know if he will be running in the senate in florida, it seems as though he will be reelected but the message seems clear -- don't do anything. the best way, in your opinion, for donald trump to campaign against hillary clinton? guest: first off, focus on hillary clinton. don't focus on general john allen. he is a political target so he can be criticized but there is
no upside. you had to attack hillary clinton and focus on her track record as secretary of state. focus on her track record with foreign policy. you have to talk about the track record of barack obama's foreign policy, because she will provide a continuity to that. i think that if you focus on that, the recent track record of , especiallyiness when it comes to the e-mails, i think if you focus on that, you can beat hillary clinton that way. but you have to do those kinds of things with retail politicking that is required in order to get votes out to the precinct. host: do you think then, because you have studied these things on
a state-by-state level, donald trump's event of having rallies will have to change? well, it is a strategy he is going to stick to. his campaign is very light. he doesn't have a lot of employees. he definitely is going to stick with that strategy. would haveandidate the same problem that mitt romney and john mccain had. john mccain -- that was a cycle that applicants were not going to win. 2012 was winnable and mitt romney focused more of his attention on national advertising and messaging, rather than getting down into these areas and campaigning where it matters. with his media celebrity and his ability to manipulate media into covering -- he possibly might do better with that strategy then mitt romney did but i don't know if he will be able to do enough.
and i don't see how that will turn out votes. host: on the democrats line from maryland, dorothy. caller: i wanted to say to ed morrissey, you have very good ideas. i am a democrat but i do want more than one party. i just have one issue and then i want to ask a question because i think we are on the same page. the privates with property -- you have to think about it. is myperty that i own private property. but what you all are talking about -- i am thinking that it means that if you own anything, you can say no blacks allowed, no whites allowed, no muslims or no gays because it is your private property. i know that is what the private property thing is about so we believe that alone. with donald trump -- you are right.
the republicans could have done better. they could have given competition and ideas. anytime you have a person who will be on the world stage talking about -- if i shoot somebody in the face, i will beat them up -- come on, now. this man has been seen around the world and he is really saying some things -- and it want to say something about john mccain. say john mccain was a hero -- he said any military person that was caught is a loser. that is what he said. he said that. that doesn't make any sense and republicans can do better. host: thank you. edward morrissey? what: we will disagree on we mean about private property rights. this call is great because i think there are a lot of commonalities with people.
and it crosses ideological and partisan lanes. everybody wants to make things better. we just differ on some of the ways of doing that. think that both parties could have done a lot better. i think that the democrats could nominated someone who doesn't have the track record of dishonesty that hillary clinton has. just the same way that republicans could have done better. i have talked about my skepticism with donald trump and i think republicans had much better options on the table but voters were not responding to the other options, the same way democrat voters weren't responding to bernie sanders or other options. martin o'malley, for instance. so we are where we are at because that has been the will of the voters. necessarily
it isly pass tpp because at least popular in the aggregate. free trade, is. there will be a number of things that could pass after election day that would be -- how should i say -- elect orlie problematic if they passed it in september or october. i think you will see a very busy lame-duck session. i don't know if you follow this, but as far as the state of the house and senate, do you think they will both be in republican hands after november? guest: i think the house, definitely. there are two may difficult these for democrats to take control. republicans have a very difficult hill to climb. they are defending 13 more seats than democrats are. if you take a look at the polling, republicans are doing
well in some states that they were worried about losing. marco rubio seems to have emerged as a strong candidate. portman they are doing well. mark kirk might be doing well. a seat that they are likely to lose. but republicans need to keep from losing four seats in order to regain control of the senate. host: on the republican line, craig, go ahead. caller: i think what we're seeing in the election cycle is a good thing. it is painful to watch as it is a train wreck. but if we look at democracies in the past that have failed, they have foiled from within.
money influence controls government. it appears republicans may be more discontent with the way the republicans -- with the way the government is being ran and therefore you have a wildcard canada. bernie sanders made a great run on the democratic side. they are an exact example of their party. bernie sanders said, let me give you this or let me give you that. donald trump is a business minded person and may be too much dollars and cents. versus thetus quo republicans candidate. it will be very interested to see how it turns out. if we continue to vote with money and influence, we will go the way a lot of other democracies have gone. we will plunge from within. thank you. ed morrissey?
interesting it is because he makes a great point about capitalism and people being frustrated but i would note that the two major party nominees here are people with long track records in the confluence of money and politics. donald trump talked about this, how he has funded politicians and bought politicians over his career because that is for you do business in america. hillary clinton with the clinton foundation and numerous political connections that came from that, her time as secretary of state when her family was making $57.5 million in income. a lot of these were from speeches given here and abroad. those are the types of things that normally, you would say if people are really frustrated
about the connection between money and politics, these people would be the last people to get nominations. so i think it will be interesting because that is a definite contradiction. it'll be interesting to see how that plays out. host: we have about one minute left. what is the one thing you are watching for in the next couple of weeks? about either campaign? guest: what interests me most is to see how far the postconvention polling bump continues. i think by august we will see that the race has stabilized and i am very interested in pennsylvania, because it is the key to donald trump's plan. that he will win pennsylvania, something republicans haven't done since 1988. and therefore, the old ideas of the electoral college map be thrown out. pennsylvania, it will change the electric college so it will be interesting to see how that plays out. morrissey,
>> c-span's washington journal is live every day with news and policy issues that affect you. aming up wednesday morning, discussion on to president obama's plans to move ahead with the transpacific partnership deal. in and kevin massey, ohio ofversity professor comparative history will compare donald trump's current campaign with that of president richard nixon and 1968. messaging, advertising, and the environment. be sure to watch c-span washington journal beginning live at 7:00 a.m. eastern wednesday morning. join the discussion. >> a human rights group said
in -- a lookeld -- at the human rights and political situation in syria. then president obama in the singapore prime minister hold a joint news conference. >> air force general was recently confirmed by the senate . tomorrow there will be a handover ceremony at the pentagon. live coverage at 11:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. an update on the 2016 conference held in durban, south africa, the summer. we will hear about the latest scientific advancements and funding for aids scientific research. that is live wednesday at 12:00 here on c-span.
>> up next, pursuing war crime against the president accused of committing atrocities against his own citizens. we will hear from the ambassador in charge of pursuing war crime charges. hostedhington institute this event. >> good afternoon. welcome to the washington institute. i would like to thank all of you for taking the time to attend what i feel will be one of the institute's most important policy forums of this year. as the forces tightened the noose at aleppo, the white house
secretary of state john kerry is attempting to create an agreement with russia about the hostilities agreement in syria. allegations ofe, regime mass atrocities continue to hang over the battlefield. ther questions remain about legal implications of the assad nature and the russian and iranian involvement in the war and the nature in which the united states and the world community will handle the war crimes both in the context of a future settlement in syria but also under a new american president. to discuss what is known of his regime, thehe assad
washington institute is pleased to host the american best minds working and writing on the issues. left, a contributing writer at the new yorker where he authored the recent excellent documentation tying the regime to torture and killing as well as shadow documents. the reporting on the assad files facilitated by grants on crisis reporting here in washington. it is a great outfit i have known in the past to work with the institute on world affairs and encourage you to check out. former stephen rapp, u.s. ambassador at large for global criminal justice who currently serves as global theention hello for
prevention of genocide. a distinguished fellow for the hague center for social justice. least, senior policy advisor to a rock and syria and advisor to the u.n. ambassador samantha power and advisor to foreign service. i think he is one of the most knowledgeable persons in the u.s. government on knowing what is going on in syria and the region as a whole. without further do, i will turn things over to then. two ben taub. for guidance, all comments today's are on the record in less instructed otherwise. second, for those speaking and those asking questions, please speak directly into the microphone because not only are we being carried on network
television but also we are streaming this life. so to get your point across you speaking toward the microphone. ben taub, it is yours. then: i am going to focus on presenting the assad files. the evidence is clear and systematic. the documentation from the internal regime that has been collected that i wrote about focuses on detention crimes which have affected hundreds of thousands of syrians. to familyhen it comes members. so, in the past four years, a group of war crimes a groupators who formed called the commission for international justice and
accountability have smuggled over 600,000 syrian government documents out of the country. these came from security intelligence facilities captured by rebels and those rebel hadanders knew that these an investigator's on the ground ready to receive documents and to so when these facilities were overrun, they would call up one of the operatives who would go when, box everything up, get the evidence together so it could later be sifted through by lawyers in europe. buried in the ground or in caves abandoned homes until it was possible to move documents across international borders. through very complex they have amassed this enormous quantity of evidence which then a large team of international lawyers and translators and analysts have gone through and built the case against the syrian government. the first of several cases which
focus on crimes and detention. using these documents which come from those security committees, as well as cities and provinces, they have been able to trace a end rebuild the chain of command and use the chain of command to link the systematic torture in murder of tens of thousands of people in the tension facilities to a policy crafted by the committee approved by the president assad himself a end returned through mid and low level security agents. committee i am talking about is called the central crisis management staff and it was started in march 2011 in response to the ongoing -- way have sayshe it was formed on march 20, 2011.
i have been appointed to this tomittee -- he appointed this committee his mother, the head of the force of committees. air force intelligence, security. the head of the national security bureau which is the body that coordinated these foreign intelligence bodies also appointed the minister of the interior. and a fewese men other ad hoc members, each of these men presided over his own chain of command and coordinated the responsibilities and shared information down. passing the orders and the policies they crafted were then approved by assad and sent back as orders through multiple parallel chains of commands into the distant provinces so that everyone had the same
information and was working toward the same coordinated goals. there was a succession of coordination, each of the 14 provinces had its own security committee which was made up of roughly the equivalent in each province and these men would then pass their meetings and reports directly up the chain and there would be meetings and reports from the district and it as to the extent that document link you find in one of the documents while working on that story, directly from the from 350 the report miles outside of damascus to provincesds between -- an is a report from a intelligent agent that says they found a piece of graffiti that said down with bush are on a water pipe near the road 300
miles from damascus and one of the members of the crisis cell sent back instructions to find the perpetrator of the crime and they spent a month looking for him and then sent a note back saying, we tried but we could not find him. this is how linked and how well-informed they were to the crimes happening on the ground. the crimes, the crackdown at first -- i am not going to go through the history of the crackdown -- you know, you all know the system of oppression that follows the early months. targeting of her testers. arrest and the tension. the case focuses not just on what happened with os x detention but the actual policy that target certain categories of people who were tortured and murdered in facilities. this policy came from a meeting of the crisis on august 5, 2011, for which they had a meeting and
had them referenced in other documents as they were sent down the chain of command to the provinces for orders of implementation. -- targetedwas certain categories of people. targeted at just organizers. a direct quote, those who tarnish the image of syria in foreign media. then the crimes against humanity that then the course-- that in of the implementation is repressive but not necessarily criminal plans. the crimes occur and the investor will talk more about the control and responsibility. international terminal a lot takes into account the fact that highest level of the traders are not at the -- highest level perpetrators are not at the
scene but they are responsible for the highest atrocities committed by their subordinates. great system of pressures. the last line is the targeting policy. in instructed mid-level security agents to supply to the head of the national security bureau a list of names of security agents who appeared irresolute or unenthusiastic in performing their duties. when you find when you interview thousands of detainees who have survived and been interviewed by theu.n., i focused on narrative of one detainee who suffered immeasurably. whose testimony happens to connect the database is not only with the regime documents but also to files which you will frommore about soon hospital 601 where he was detained and tortured further. and because of these
detainees were kept for months and sometimes years in absolutely inhumane conditions. or 12ions with 10 or 11 or 13 people held in a single solitary confinement cell for weeks at a time. conditions where a 10 meter by three meter broom there might be more than 100 people living together for months and months. variousould die from sickness is going around the facility. people would die when guards would arbitrarily abuse them into their wounds would not heal and they would get infected. they would eventually after taken to a room specifically for interrogation and the interrogation would be part of the plan as well. interrogation started,
they would be interrogated over listed ins questions the targeting policy of the crisis cell itself. and when people would not admit to committing various crimes ,hey had not done, for instance one was an organizer, he admitted to being an organizer, he admitted to sending out videos of protests to al jazeera after being tortured. that was insufficient, the system of pressure for larger results. they needed to be able to create this veneer of a traditional process which meant a system with much more serious crime so he was tortured in ways that i do not think i should describe here but are in the article if you want to read it. to the point where he admitted terrorism and crime said not
done and this happened to hundreds of thousands of detainees across the country. because if the intelligence the interrogations did not get results they themselves ended up in the cells. that happened. there were numerous witnesses who were also tortured in detention. youraving not carried out duties with enough force. i will close with just saying that the next step in the beenss was once they had coerced into confessing to these crimes, after a few more months of detention, they would be forced to some print right up often peopleion worth i'm printing these documents while they were blindfolded. they had no chance to read what their confessing to and those who were released became sympathetic judges.
that was the case with one who showed the judge these signs of torture all over his body, his broken ribs. his emaciated torso. and the judge took pity. other judges would then send them to prisons where they would be no because they had confessed to these crimes, the judicial process for which they could be detained legally for however many years. so this is the sort of cases they built from internal regime documents and from hundreds of witnesses. the key things in terms of prosecution is explaining these crimes on individual criminal responsibility which they can trace through the documents straight up to the very top. -- [applause] you,ank you been -- thank
ben. as a monitorder which has a compilation of photos, some of which are from ben taub's investigation and his courtesy of intel and his work with the new yorker and we also have some of the photos provided with permission well as rights watch as a couple other aerial shots to show you the general construction and give you context of what these two gentlemen are speaking about today. forhank you and thank you holding this program to the washington institution and bringing us back to the mass of atrocities and the way in which we can build for the day when those responsible are held to account. we have had war going on since the uprising became a conflict in late 2011 in syria for almost
five years. have beenf thousands taken to the seizure, have taken to the roads, have left home and hearth, the places where they were formally -- formerly secure and are seeking refuge elsewhere. doing it not just because of the conflict. injury tocts cause these civilian population. but this is a conflict fought massthe permission of atrocities in a way that has made life in syria, the vast majority of the population, simply intolerable and worth taking enormous risks to escape the horrors with their families. i really want to salute ben taub's work on these two stories .n the new yorker
i worked closely with him and i remember visiting the former office in brussels. he was therefore two weeks poring over documents. if anyone ever wants to -- if he ever wants to end his career as a journalist and become a prosecutor, he would be a great asset. meticulously putting together the information. frankly this is so much more overwhelming. more overwhelming than those responsible for the genocide in rwanda or the mass atrocities committed in bosnia or another crime scenes. across the world. of thosest evidence a.m. the one i continue to have contact with is the evidence of the so-called seizure files. those are recent. frankly, he recently gave a 44-page statement to a magistrate in a european country and he continues to cooperate
with accountability. i continue to salute his bravery and the bravery of all these individuals that have brought hissolid documentation but is some of the most impressive i've ever seen. policea career military investigator who took pictures of crime scenes and in 2011 he was in this role and the government and 10 others photographed scores of bodies dumped in the hospital every day. during the course of the time from may 2011 until he defected in august of 2013, he took a great risk for himself into his family. his group took more than 50,000 photos and these are photos and many of you have seen some of them on public display at the holocaust museum and at the u.s. capital and elsewhere. they are incredible and the ones them.are not the worst of
i have seen most of them and gone through them and they are people of all ages. most of them starved but not just starved. eyes gouged. bones broken. agents.ned by chemical signs of scars where organs had been removed. people who were even serrated. people were eviscerated and a numbering system was used. an amazing thing. the regime itself, the department sent orders and people came and held cards with the number of the individual and the facility they were tortured in and the number of that facility and caesar went every can -- as computer night and put this all an index by the data came from and the
facility where this person had died. and by that numbering system, during that time, more than 11,000 people were tortured to death in these facilities in the damascus area. that is just a the damascus area. 35 thetions like 200 palestine branch. others associated with military intelligence. and since that time, some 760 of them have been identified in their families have come forth and many of them are assisting law enforcement. i met some of the families and they described not knowing anything about what had happened to their son or the nephew. i talked to some businessmen in the is tumble area in the construction business and the sun was making deliveries, bringing supplies to a job site and he was picked up because he area that was
known in the damascus suburbs as an area with a lot of rebels and therefore he ended up tortured thing hisn the next parents cfm is in emaciated, torn, broken individual. -- the next thing his parents see of him is in emaciated, torn, broken individual. that is why people of taken to the road. the people who ended up being about,have been talked like our friend who managed to survive who i saw 10 days ago. he is doing well. continuing to fight. he is one of the few people who wants to put himself forward publicly in news footage. working at that time with a documentary crew. he is still so thin and frankly,
broken, it almost seems like his arms are on backwards to be frank. he continues to talk about his experiences and he described sell multiple times, he, who was in the oil in junior working for slumbers a in the eastern part of the country became a secular protester who was actually on his way to deliver some milk people to the besieged indoor yet at the time he was arrested. horrendouss situations happening in the facilities and periodically amnesty. people who would get amnesty were the jihadi's who would go out and reinforce isis and create the perception assad tends to create that it is a choice of the devil and the deep blue sea. they have to support him or isis. but even the policy emphasizing
enemies are the secular, the moderate position in the country. aboutub went on to talk the bombardments. prosecutor,ational it is easier in terms of detention facilities to the extent you had a hold of the individual ready intelligence service all the way up to the top, to the resident of the republic and down through the chain of command into these facilities because these are state facilities and because there is such great notice of what is going on, these are among the easier cases prosecuted in international justice. cases involving bombardment are more difficult. we know when civilians are present among insurgents there will be civilian casualties. it is unavoidable. but in fact the approach the
syrians have taken has been so direct and targeted towards civilian and humanitarian , ben taub in his other -- they have documented the number of medical professionals killed which has thereached more than 700 by regime. isis on the other hand, 27. to some extent, even though isis crimes tend to be much more visible indicates to some extent the proportion of the crimes we're talking about in syria. that is all rubble groups. -- rebel groups. you can see on the website, some of these killings of doctors are ,eople in the caesar photos people like dr. khan, surgeon from london who went to the
aleppo area to help and ended up murdered by the regime. in bombings. in the bombings, 200 91 attacks and facilities and personnel by syrian government forces. 45 by russians and syrian governments in bombing raids together. 24 by the opposition. one has been documented to be a coalition strike i am sure they would argue unintentionally hit a medical facility. the way in which they are conducting it is also through a form of siege warfare. the seizure ato civilian area, to cut off food and medical supplies and certainly beyond cutting of medical supplies, intentionally targeting medical ambulances.
just to show their red cross. now they go around and muddy vehicles because they know if they are in a white vehicle and is known as humanitarian mission, they are going to be a monk those targeted. more dangerous, frankly, to be a civilian and humanitarian actor than it is to be a soldier or rubble. now we have -- a soldier or a rebel. now we have a report from someone who one a report -- someone who won an award of reporting on bosnia, he wrote on sunday about what he read and many read as a red -- threat by vladimir putin and russian to employ the grocery rules in regard to aleppo. a declaration, get out or you are all dead.
this is part of why they have with humanitarian fanfare that they were opening up these four corridor's for people to leave. but we know the history of the corridor's. the dangers of people being pulled away from those that may be leaving families. separated. the absence of a safe place to go even at the end of the wrote. -- the end of the route. it doesn't make any difference linedf it was a highway with forces. to make that kind of declaration and turn around and target everyone who does not leave with indiscriminate bombing or unleashing killers on the ground is murder. it is a war crime. also, extermination is a crime against humanity and as we saw in grossman, the large presence and,esney and -- chechnya
it does not destroy them. it creates them. it is criminal conduct. it is unthinkable that anyone would think the vladimir putin government was playing a constructive role in syria. they made common cause with vladimir putin and assad to go against the group. commanders are now in danger of being charged as haters -- aiders and a bettors of the war crimes. that information is from physicians for human rights. doing that kind of thing and aleppo, formerly the largest city in syria is what threatens to make them direct perpetrators in war crimes and crimes against humanity. what does that mean? when are people going to be held to account for these crimes? first of all, i want to note the day of accountability will come.
i'm not talking about going to the icc. supported by the united states, supported by 14 members of the un security council in 2014, referral to the icc was blocked by russian and chinese veto will stop it does not require necessarily the internationalized cleared to or a future syrian court. that is what we really want to see, a syrian court widely representative of the syrian country. there is jurisdiction now to prosecute this crime. withinders are coming range of prosecutors with the jurisdiction to go after them. first of all, it is because of the documentation that has been brought out. ben taub has described the work of mike good friends and the papers and several hundred
thousand pages that have recently left syria. other organizations are part of that. close to one million pages of this kind of documentation. it is impressive. the other day we had done a search on the documents written in arabic which is not that easy to do character recognition with to see if there is any mention of one man000 pages and we found a logbook of his arrest. that they arrested him and certain of his friends. he was quite moved to see that and then suddenly became emotional because he said, and all the friends arrested with me are dead. it is an amazing thing to actually find the documented order that begin this. and i was involved in a case in
fantastically strong evidence was discovered against the president 10 years after he was overthrown, of his hand on the torture instrument should be allowed to leave this prison alive. the strength of that evidence created the dynamic to prosecute him. foras recently sentenced life, imprisoned by a mixed court in senegal established several organizations together. strongu have organizations and evidence, you will find a way. criminal jurisdiction today in countries where some of the national.re we see in example of that, though it was only a civil
lawsuit, certainly it tells you what is coming is the case atught by my good friends the center for justice and accountability out of san francisco in the case of an murdered inizen syria on between second of february 2012. it is a 33-page complaint. i urge you to go to it. work closely with them. they have identified the responsible parties. assad directly responsible, the brother. a general, the head of the intelligence directly responsible for her murder. specifically they located where this general was and intentionally bombarded and killed her and a french photographer and of course
injured others that are still with us in journalism. that gave rise to a lawsuit in in american court under the foreign sovereign immunities act and it is an extremely strong case. those witness testimony that directly ties these individuals and we have been successful in relocating families in other countries so they are secured to testify in other cases. keep in mind this makes these individuals also responsible for the murder under american law of an american of citizen is a murder in the first degrees under the laws of the united states and opens up the case of of human rights special department of justice. it is already executed people like charles taylor, junior. i was prosecuting trolls taylor, junior in the hague. the hero's attorney in miami
77 years.him to these are the kind of cases that can be made. an active have investigation that was announced in january 20 15 to prosecute these individuals as well under their laws. have an open investigation. inre is also of course, keep mind, these individuals are not turning up in washington, you know. anytime soon. but this certainly creates a situation where there are more than 100 countries in the world where they cannot safely go now until the day they die. but we also have perpetrators that are beginning to come out of syria. of course, many for the opposition. they friends have shown are working with a number of european prosecutors. you would be amazed at some of the torturers that are now a monday refugee population and
can be identified and are being pointed out why the survivors. those are cases that can be prosecutors and under the president's jurisdiction. a crime committed elsewhere, if he is in your country, you can prosecute the crime. thes at the end of may with dutch, the president of the european council for the first 2016 on the 29th --may, established the first to salute the work of the european network. the united states as part. 32 countries working in conjunction. 14 of these prosecuting unit have successfully prosecuted a for rwandaonsible genocide. they are each working on syrian cases. to those to be clear
who might think that the syrian regime, might be the wave of the future. the massive crimes they have committed. the crimes that led to the flow of refugees in human history. it did, we have more people on the road as refugees than in world war i, world war ii. 60 5 million today. so many of them coming out of this conflict zone. the day of justice is arriving. those who commit these crimes will face consequences. those victims and to those people that are working to help document these crimes who are so discouraged they are often seeing the world is not stand with them as they suffered the bombs. as their eyes were doused out. as their children's were hacked to death. as their children's bodies were returned as was shown in the early parts of the
uprising. those individuals need to take hurt. justice is possible. evidence is being preserved. they should come forward and assist investigators and prosecutors so we can begin to determine these crimes and increase the chances that those who would otherwise take flight will be safe with their families in their homes. thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you very much, ambassador. well, the floor is yours. wa'el: thank you for having me. somebody who was born and raised in syria, i have no doubt that eventually those responsible will face
prosecution in court. everythingou on you're doing. i commend you ben taub on what you are doing. thank you and you for highlighting this issue and giving it importance. the focus is usually on isil and al nusra but and other atrocities are taking place on a daily basis in the regime. there can be no doubt. are,prehensible as they the focus right now at least within the u.s. government is on supporting the steps we can take to lay the groundwork for justice. with respect to syria. including efforts by syrian society and international
organizations to gather evidence and help eventually build a case to assist many of these efforts we've heard about to prosecute responsible parties whether they are on the government or the opposition side even though most attacks were directed it seems by the government. we support these efforts but also not just those pertaining to abuse of the detainees, sexual violence, and by the way a larger amount of sexual related cases have actually been traded by the regime against those who they deem to be sympathizing with the families of the opposition. it is not just a cell -- it is il, it is a much bigger darker picture thanks and prior to the files we're been able to get out of syria that really painted a more systematic
targeting by the syrian regime. are these standing up of the joint investigators that is currently still reviewing evidence and will be publishing hopefully end making public its report sometime in september regarding who was responsible for the use of chemical weapons in syria. while the number of those affected by chemical weapons is far less land those who have been possibly detained, killed, displayed, there is a clear international consensus and a -- thatf pretty good hold all of the parties accountable. whether it is the regime or non-state actors. we have supported the efforts and look forward to the report coming out in a month about.
as noted in the geneva communique of 2012, there needs to be comprehensive approach towards transitional justice. about people are worried the united states trying to cut a deal that keeps us in power or perhaps gives immunity. there's no such thing going on. let me be very clear about that. while we are indeed trying to find a political solution to the conflict that certainly the -- anddoes not think is they are pursuing a military victory in syria. while pursuing a victory is preferable, the only way to heaven sustainable case in syria the issue ofnsure transitional justice, part and parcel, of transition. that is part of the geneva communique. we support a syrian-led process groundwork for
future transitional justice and criminal accountability and ultimately sustainability. on a side note, i was the first u.s. official to use the file. i was working with ambassador robert ford and one of his liaisons with the opposition, the activist, the ngo's, many of the people. protesters who started the revolution and in the summer of 2013, once caesar had left surreal moment at a mcdonald's in istanbul where a member of the opposition came to me. i was finishing a great dinner and he opened up a laptop in showed me 50,000 pictures. you can see them here. so, there is a lot of people in the u.s. government that are in the issuevested
of accountability and will make sure that we provide whatever support we can offer to various accountability and transitional justice efforts. i will stop here. will be taking questions. >> thank you. [applause] craigslist is not often happen, but -- >> this does not often happen but you can as we are at live streaming, apparently as i mentioned the caesar photos are scrolling on your left referred to a number of times by all three gentlemen. caesar is watching and he has sent us a message. thank you fort to remembering the victims. and for pursuing justice. act, not justt to
speak. that is why i hope we can do more to stop the atrocities and applied it congress for the important bill in support of syrian civilians. what he is referring to is the act ofivilian protection 2015 which is a bipartisan bill sponsored by congressman eliot engel. congressman eliot ingle you can speaknd with others in the audience and from the hill on the details from that. it is not just in terms of we are dealing with the executive branch and the executive branch response but there are sanctions. i can tell you is somebody who lived in syria for a long time, there is one thing that the syrian regime worries about and
that is sanctions. it complicates their lives significantly in ways we do not even fully understand. i am going to take the moderator's prerogative and ask the first question. based on what caesar has asked here. as all three of you have said, there is overwhelming evidence of atrocity crimes committed by the syrian regime in syria. well, was mentioned as they have been committed by all sides, but the overall majority has been by the syrian regime. there is a chain of evidence, some of which we can see here. and there is a list of violations that the ambassador outlined. so, my question to you, because i honestly don't know the question. usually i ask questions at already know the answer to. why the hell haven't we been going after them since the
beginning? what is stopping the united states, or its allies, from going after the assad regime? do we usually wait for the war to be over and then pursue htem? or is there a lot going on scenes?e the >> let me jump in on that. u.s. government until august of 2015 and fighting all the time to lay the groundwork for the accountability of these crimes. this was my situation like libya, where we able to send a case to the icc. the russians were blocking before we brought the icc any effort to sanction or almost even criticize the assad government for these crimes. so, the kinds of international things we have had, and context of the establishment of yugoslavia, referral of
darfor were blocked. there is no jurisdiction under the treaty of the icc. unless syria is a party to the icc, crimes committed by his citizens can be prosecuted, but they clearly were not. that particular avenue was closed the government of syria was not going to agree to independently prosecute its times. those sorts of vehicles have been blocked. with have been dealing this, we recognized there could be these third-party prosecutions, but that would take time. one, you would have to identify that you had a dual national among the victims. and then you could develop the documents to show who is responsible for that crime.
that would take a great deal of energy to do it right and do it according to the standards we expect of u.s. attorneys or european prosecutors. or, to have the perpetrators begin to turn up. a lot of time, the perpetrators are there, to continuing to torture. form from early on, the united states and other countries established an inquiry. the human rights council, which the united states has been a member of 45 of the last six years, -- a member of for five of the last six years, was able to pass a solution to create a commission to investigate and to write narrative reports. our concern in early 2014 became that that was not enough. they were writing good narrative reports and headlines every time the issue them, but they were not collecting documents or videos. they were basically interviewing refugees. and had begun to do some other
things as well, but they were not in the business of documentation. that led the u.s., under secretary clinton, to go to istanbul and announce that we wanted a documentation center. at that point, we called it the syrian justice and accountability center. we proposed it and got other states to support it. our friend mohammed abdul is in washington, supporting that. we then supported other documentation efforts in syria. all of them had to be a partnership between international experts and the syrian victims and survivors. but one of the most successful was this procedure, which received $1 million in funding to begin its operations to collect these documents. since then, and now has a budget of almost $6 million each year as it collects these documents and employs 135 people, the
majority of them from syria. but also people that are ex-tribunal prosecutors. of course, we did not prosecute the nazis and it would be them in the war. rwandanot prosecute the genocide until the genocide had ended. court case of yugoslavia, had begun, but it did not become effective until we had the end of the 1999 intervention. then, we began to get some of the high-level suspects. so, it does take time to get justice. you can expect it like a bank robbery. you pick up the bank robbers and have a trial in six months. it is not going to be that way. that is discouraging to people who would like to see justice right now, who would like to see as we had in the case of you k now, this year, the international arrest warrants
out there. it is tough to get those international arrest warrant's issued when those leaders are still in power. sometimes you can do it. in liberia, with charles taylor, after the arrest warrant was unsealed, he was basically overthrown in his own country. but you don't necessarily have justice right away. people have become discouraged by the fact that this conflict has gone on for so long and there has been so little in this area, compared to other symbolic actions. but they should not interpret for absence of trials today a statement that there won't be trials tomorrow because there will be. and we want fair ones. we don't want victor's justice. clearly, their people in the opposition that have committed horrible crimes.
they should be held accountable for that, too. the best place for that is in syria with everybody represented in the court, so it is not a case of "who won the war." now withe short term, the impact of this, with the hundreds of thousands of refugees in europe, we are getting into a situation where we do have criminal jurisdiction and cases will begin this year for these crimes. no, i think the ambassador laid out the challenges quite well. it certainly has taken time and it will probably take more time. to issue of access investigate on the ground is almost impossible. prosecutors will be relying on things that have been smuggled out, which indicates the assad
trials, there is plenty of material to sift through for future prosecution. on the council, i can tell you firsthand that it is virtually impossible to get any real, whether it is sanctions or the syrian regime, it does not make a right. but that is the fact. russians,e fo the they are party to the conflict. they will not agree to measures that will have any meaningful impact on the syrian regime anytime soon. casewe were able, in the of the joint investigative mechanism to secure their support for standing up this body. debates on why they went along with it. my sense is, they know that whatever jim will come back with, that report has to
go back to the security council. they basically have a shot at expressing their displeasure at that point, but still, it would be quite a bold move on their part, i would say, to reject the findings of a body that the russians helped create and supported its mandate. so, we will see. to be determined. it will be, i think, very interesting to see what comes out on this front. and it is true. the usg's efforts right now, because of the obstacles of unexplained documentation -- but also, and i know we catch a lot of flak for that, is supporting an end to the conflict we think is the most important step right now and ushering in a. -- and ushering in a period in which criminal justice can take place.
trying to reach true accountability now is going to be almost impossible, if we are honest with ourselves. however, with enough evidence, there could be certain cases where prosecution would move forward against certain elements of the regime now, if there is undeniable evidence and a case built against them. in a think you will see us beeing supportive of that moving forward -- and i think you'll supportive of that moving forward. the people should not underrate process of moving forward. i can tell you that firsthand. >> ok. i would like to open it up now for questions. so, please raise your hand. we will get a microphone to you. we will start out with barbara, over here on my left.
>> barbara from the atlantic council. thank you all very much. ambassador rapp, could you tell us more about the cases that are moving forward in europe? could you mention any of the countries, or any of the specifics, about these cases? thank you very much. ambassador rapp: keep in mind, in civil law countries they make no disclosures until they are prepared to hold somebody under a judicial order. obviously, i don't want to compromise anything in those investigations, or in the process. i would say that the cases do here dualituations wer e caesars are in the deser file, and family members are cooperating to help prosecute
the people responsible for the crimes. keep in mind, usually in national prosecutions, most prosecutors would rather go after somebody they can get a hold of today, than somebody who is off in some foreign country that it could take them a decade to get into custody. those of us at the international level are more willing to wait a long time. countries that will prosecute perpetrators that are outside of the country and put out international red notices, letting them know those cases are built. but we will also be looking for perpetrators elsewhere in europe, for instance. they can be brought in and tried. those could be individual tortures or people have been identified by those in the refugees stream as engaged in similar conduct. so, we will see cases like that.
see what cases have been much more common, in the case of rwanda and latin america, that have been prosecuted in europe as the perpetrators are there. and there are several major perpetrators that are in europe now. they have been identified and cases are being built against them, but those are particularly important cases not to let those individuals know. we don't want them heading to st. petersburg or back to syria. we want a strong enough case that when arrested, there is sufficient evidence to hold them until the time of trial. but there are a number of these cases that are being made. with therrent role holocaust museum and the hagan institute is largely working on this issue of documenting ongoing crimes to assist
national and international prosecutions in places where we don't yet have courts that have the capacity to go out and do it themselves. but i am not sitting here and saying "prosecute this guy." i'm try to make sure they know who the witnesses are, they have got the evidence, that the documentation center is open to their judge's magistrates, and they are. we just have had procedures move to portugal headquarters. investigators are there, asking for files and asking for additional information. there are a couple of days that are very close to the filing stage. but i know better than to say it will happen tomorrow, but i say confidently, we will begin to see this kind of thing this year. these are not easy cases.
his crime was committing torture in liberia. but he was found in miami on a false passport because of u.n. sanctions falling through and because he was present in the united states, he can be prosecuted for torturing people abroad. he could also be prosecuted as a citizen because his father was, but we did not even need to prosecute him as a citizen. finally, the witnesses and bringing them to the united states to testify. sometimes in european countries, they can go to where the witnesses are, take statements, and include those in tehe file. these cases are never as easy as local crimes. but thus far, the record of is almostrosecutors 100%. so, i do think we will have so
me success. that we are live streaming and we said it would all be on the record. but we have some security concerns. they would prefer, if anybody is writing about this, that their location the western europe, if that is something you intended to put in the article. that is something i spent a lot of time discussing with them when i was working on the piece, when they were in a different country at the time. >> just wait for the microphone, sorry. >> thank you. question just a quick to ambassador rapp. let's say in pursuit of a political solution, some powers try to cut a deal with the assad regime, in which assad would leave the country in exchange for immunity. how would prosecution play out then?
all, underrst of international law, it is quite well-recognized, and you can see this recognized in national salvadoruch as in el recently, who struck down thei law. these are not binding agreements. and whenever anybody sides, that prosecution ofe the individual in the future. some people regret that we can't make these deals anymore, but you can't make these deals. and the perpetrators know that. so, it is not possible. the is not to say that in individual country they cannot proceed with their own transitional justice approach. just because the person doesn't have amnesty doesn't mean they
don't prosecute them. most of us think prosecution should be limited to the high-level individuals and there should be other efforts to rehabilitate and reconcile with seekingnd use the truth justice measures in those cases. we see this kind of thing happening in colombia now. the possibility of prosecution is essential to even getting the people of colombia to agree with that. a tendency on the part of the international community to say that if they can work this out in a way that establishes the truth and is for penal provide consequences, we will not disturb that. but as far as a binding agreement, it is not on. that is not to say that somebody could not reach an agreement and go somewhere where he might be difficult to get to, etc.
but one could never give a guarantee that the day would not arrive when the government of that country might change and to siddecide hey, it is time send you. ishaps the past approach something people can live with, but a deal is not a good thing. and do keep in mind. sierracuted in syri leone. wereof thousands of women raped and many hands were chopped off. they gave them amnesty. this group were disarmed and they would engage in elections. they made the man who is trying to steal the diamond mines vice president. they shop people down in the streets that were demonstrating. they took peacekeepers hostage and killed some of them.
it was necessary to defeat them and the government said all of a sudden, for the top leaders, no amnesty. those of the kind of deals when you can tell somebody, you can get away with it, but we get you further for your crimes. countries that actually face up to the truth, confront the past, hold people responsible have much lower levels of violence in their societies thereafter. this is not you know, a question of peace or justice. it is necessary to have justice in order to have genuine, long-term peace. >> i have a question for you, ambassador rapp. [laughter] >> really? >> we've discussed of the gop political agonies at the u.n. security council, in terms of referrals to the icc, at least. we can conceive a scenario in
which down the line, russia and china might not block a resolution to refer the situation in syria to the icc. have adiscussed, we difficult situation on our hands with aleppo. anybody who is left behind can be targeted. i would those individual russian actors who are making those decisions be held to account, given that they are voting on the u.n. security council, and russia is not party to the icc? what would be the hypothetical avenue to pursuing justice for that crime? well, obviously, the bottom line of this, and i was careful about this.
i think one could develop an aiding and abetting case against russia now. my friends at the syrian observatory in london documented some particular attacks in their work. there is potential liability there. but if you actually became part andhis kind of operation part of the bombing of the city those who did not leave, and very few people leave, then you would have very serious war crimes. of course, that would mean, if a russia was not against it already, that you would not get a solution to the security council. but that also means that russian people that are going to a meeting somewhere, could suddenly find themselves tagged in those countries for
these crimes. so, there could be jurisdiction if they want to spend all their time within the russian federation. fine, they are never bothered. there could be lawsuits. there could be efforts to seize accounts elsewhere, that kind of thing. i have met these people, engaged some of them. and there is corruption and things like that that could provide some resources and reasons to go after their money. so, i do think there could be some accountability. it would still be challenging. now, we are investigating russia formally in terms of crimes committed against german nationals during the 2008 war. nationals georgian during the 2008 war.
in georgia is a state party. so, the icc could get involved. but i don't think we are likely to get that kind of jurisdiction. but the possibility of justice is there. it is obviously, much stronger in the case of syrians who might be tempted, who might be even today thinking, we will find a some safe place where some of our family members are and go live there. loudnk the message quite and clear is forget that. if you want to commit these kinds of crimes, there will not be places available to you. >> if i could get a microphone, sorry. i am right here in the middle. read your hand so i can see you for the microphone. there we go. greag rose, formally at the
defense department. one of two questions. just a quick follow-up on the russia question. i don't recall there being accountability for what happened in chechnya. i would like to suggest that russia, given it already has some liability -- and i have spoken about this on some panels -- it is hard to imagine they would agree to a situation that would create political accountability in the u.n. i am a group that is very involved in working with the ambassador to deal with judicial acts. i am wondering how this issue of isis accountability fits into this question of accountability by the syrian regime. in other words, some of us are
working specifically on that issue and it is clear the state department has not developed a sense of how to deal with that. i would expect because the assad issue would work in a different way. does the administration have a position on that now? , ambassadorng, invested o rapp, what it should do about that issue of targeted minorities? you the state department and other agencies are actively looking and compiling evidence of crimes against humanity, war crimes and thatide in syria and iraq might have been perpetrated by nazi actors or the syrian regime. those investigations, and terms of building our own internal understanding, whether it was systematic, and that is the key here. it is ongoing. so, they have not reached a
final determination. was --ey were able to do basically, the overwhelming evidence, some of them based on , that theystatements want to wipe out the community of northern iraq, it was definitely a quicker case to make. like you see in the role of language, the decision was that isil was responsible for many other communities in iraq. but in terms of the regime that is ongoing, personally, i think it is a matter of time. >> well, first of all, i don't want to minimize the horrible crimes that have been committed by isis, particularly against religious minorities in northern iraq. i do want to say anything in this world is easy, but that is much easier than the syrian overwhelmingse the
crimes have been committed by daesh. isis or we have not made more progress on this to date. one of the things i can do now is, i will be out of the white house tomorrow night at 8:00, holding a candle with others on the second anniversary of the genocide. you are all invited. important to take action on the. we have a syrian commission created by the human rights council. some of these crimes were committed in syria. they have made a determination that appears the genocide was committed against the
assides. still, more work needs to be done to help bolster that particular finding that was mandated by congress. it is important, i think, to open up the avenue for these crimes. because some of these perpetrators are coming into custody. saief, the man who used women for his sexual pleasure, his wife who was
involved in that, was taken in 2015delta raid in may of and was transported to kurdish authority. she has been prosecuted for material support to a terrorist organization. she has been charged, frankly in richmond for that crime because of the time into the united states as well. she will not be extradited because she is an iraqi citizen. though she claims to be a citizen of the caliphate, she is constitutionally protected from exhibition, but she is not being prosecuted for the genocide and sexual slavery, which is a crime against humanity, in which she care appears to be complicit. will look and hope mosul be freed one of these days, there are major perpetrators there in mosul. some of them may die in conflict, but others will not.
there will be individuals who will be held to account for this crime of crimes. how to get there, one could have an icc referral by the security council. it is not something back that at this point wants to support. it comes with the necessity of daesh out of the area, but it is important to lay the foundation for it. is notto think the icc the perfect solution here. the icc generally only prosecutes three or four people maximum and each of these situations. it does not have a large investigative capacity. under law, it could not use u.n. resources for that and it is very busy with the cases it has.