Caesar Act Becomes Law, War Criminals in Syria to be Held Accountable
Enforcement of the bipartisan Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act will be urgently tested in Idlib, where civilians are under constant and escalating violence
WASHINGTON D.C., December 20, 2019 – As Russia and the Assad regime bombard innocent civilians in Idlib, Syria, President Trump today signed into law the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act (S. 52/H.R. 31), as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which will sanction Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies. Syrian American organizations applaud this signing and look to the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to impose these sanctions, ultimately holding perpetrators of atrocities in Syria accountable at long last.
The Syrian American organizations extend their gratitude to the members of U.S. Congress and President Trump for quickly moving the bill forward into law, and for the efforts of the network of community members and advocates that fought tirelessly for the passage of this legislation. The signing of this legislation represents the continuation of engagement between U.S. officials and the Syrian American community on efforts to uphold human rights in Syria and hold Assad and his allies responsible for war crimes.
The organizations released the following statement:
“The Syrian American community hopes that the Trump administration will utilize the legislative tools provided by Congress through the Caesar bill to take immediate and concerted action against the Assad regime’s war machine. Together, our organizations stand ready to assist the administration in the implementation of the Caesar bill through consulting with federal agencies to provide information and evidence against individuals and entities responsible for atrocities against civilians.
“Although we are commemorating this momentous event today, we must get back to work tomorrow. Even now as we celebrate this particular success, Syrian civilians in Idlib are under near-constant bombardment, threatening what could be the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the past eight years. Ending the violence in Idlib will be the true and immediate test of the bill’s efficacy in protecting Syrian civilians.
“The Caesar bill is the first step in bringing a non-violent resolution to the Syrian conflict. There is more that both Congress and the Trump administration can do to pressure Bashar al-Assad to come to the peace table through the Geneva process.”
Syrian American organizations have advocated for this legislation since 2016 and will continue to strive towards the protection of civilians in Idlib, reconstruction and stabilization in non-regime held areas, addressing the presence of Iranian-backed militias in Syria, and the distribution of humanitarian assistance through the United Nations. The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act is a critical tool for the United States to produce a diplomatic solution in Syria.
Organizations signing on to this statement include:
Americans for a Free Syria
Citizens for a Secure and Safe America
Free Syria PAC
Kayla’s List PAC
Syrian American Council
Syrian Emergency Task Force
Syrian Institute for Progress
Syrian Christians for Peace
The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act is a bipartisan legislation intended to avoid harm to civilians and prevent normalization of a criminal regime. Enforcement of the act will:
- Sanction all persons and businesses that fund Assad’s war machine, including Syria’s Central Bank, oil companies, construction companies and mercenary forces;
- Sanction war criminals in Syria, including Armed Forces commanders, the Council of Ministers and employees at the Scientific Research and Studies Center, which makes chemical weapons;
- Provide Congress with military and non-military solutions for civilian protection, including those under bombardment, trapped at borders or displaced;
- Avert neighboring countries from providing economic support to the Assad regime;
- Ensure the president can only lift sanctions when the Syrian government takes concrete steps toward human rights goals and prioritization of civilian safety by ending air strikes, releasing detainees, and allowing the safe and voluntary return of Syrian refugees.
Michelle R. Taylor