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REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK: How to prosecute Syrian war criminals | Fox News.pdf

REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK: How to prosecute Syrian war criminals | Fox News.pdf

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11/3/13, 9:03 AMREPORTER'S NOTEBOOK: How to prosecute Syrian war criminals | Fox NewsPage 1 of 4http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/10/30/reporter-notebook-how-to-prosecute-those-who-committed-war-crimes-in-syria/
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The Syrian civil war will end. Eventually. No war lasts forever. Andwhen the guns finally fall silent in what has been, and remains, aparticularly brutal fight, someone will have to pay for the war crimescommitted. And those crimes have been committed by both sides.The United Nations says chemical weapons were used, to horrificeffect, on Aug. 21. U.S. officials say there is no doubt thoseweapons were used by President Bashar al-Assad’s army. That is awar crime.
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REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK: How toprosecute Syrian war criminals
By Jonathan Hunt  /Published October 30, 2013/FoxNews.com
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11/3/13, 9:03 AMREPORTER'S NOTEBOOK: How to prosecute Syrian war criminals | Fox NewsPage 2 of 4http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/10/30/reporter-notebook-how-to-prosecute-those-who-committed-war-crimes-in-syria/
Human Rights Watch has accused extremist rebels of slaughteringnearly 200 civilians in an offensive against pro-regime villages on Aug. 4, going house to house and executing entire families. That isa war crime.President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and leaders frommany other western countries have repeatedly said thoseresponsible for carrying out war crimes must, and will, be heldresponsible.But who can do that? And how does any kind of court look at theevidence and separate the plain truth from the fog of war?Professor David Crane might be the man to do it. Crane, currentlyat the Syracuse University College of Law,certainly has theexperience – he was the first Chief Prosecutor of the Special Courtfor Sierra Leone, a court that successfully prosecuted former President Charles Taylor of the neighboring African nation of Liberia. Taylor is currently serving a 50-year sentence. And now Crane, along with a blue ribbon panel of international lawexperts, as well as some law students at Syracuse, has set hissights on Syria. It is vital, he says, that the crimes committed thereare prosecuted, that the international community’s promises of accountability are followed up with action. “Mankind has evolved towhere they have decided to hold individuals accountable whocommit war crimes against humanity and genocide,” the professor told me before testifying to Congress this week, “and if we stepback from that or show the appearance that we're stepping awayfrom that kind of standard, then it's going to be a pretty dark worldover time, so the rule of law has to happen. The rule of law is morepowerful than the rule of the gun, and we have to send that signal.”So Crane and his team have set up the Syria Accountability Projectto track and try to verify, or debunk, every accusation of war crimesin Syria, and provide potential prosecutors with what the professor calls a “cornerstone document” on which trials could be based.It’s an ambitious project with the United Nations and US StateDepartment among its interested clients. The project uses opensource reporting and other sources from all sides in the Syrianconflict to establish a “conflict narrative” that tracks the situation onthe ground in Syria and key geopolitical developments relative tothe major players in the conflict.
Is there a case for Syrianwar crimes?
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11/3/13, 9:03 AMREPORTER'S NOTEBOOK: How to prosecute Syrian war criminals | Fox NewsPage 3 of 4http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/10/30/reporter-notebook-how-to-prosecute-those-who-committed-war-crimes-in-syria/
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Using all this information, as well as his own expertise and that of his colleagues,Crane then develops the “crime base matrix,” a kindof road map for those who might one day prosecute these crimes.“It's important to understand that we developed this crime-basedmatrix, but from there, we analyze that data,” the professor told me,“and then we take those incidents that are truly verifiable, thatactually took place, and develop an indictment matrix and from thatis where they actually begin to draft the outline of an indictmentagainst whomever we are looking at to include Assad and hishenchmen.”So where would these trials take place? It’s important to note thatSyria is not a party to the International Criminal Court, based in theNetherlands, so the ICC doesn’t have jurisdiction over war crimescommitted in Syria unless the United Nations Security Councilgrants it.rCrane believes that won’t happen because of the politicsof the Security Council. But he does believe a Syrian court or something similar to the Special Court for Sierra Leone could bevenues in which to bring justice for the Syrian people. And it must happen, he says. “ We have to use the rule of law as abasis by which we govern ourselves both domestically andinternationally, and as soon as that crack happens, where it lookslike we are not following the rule of law, the 21st century is in gravedanger. We're better than that.”
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