One Step Closer: Senate Committee Passes Caesar Act

Leader McConnell Must Move the Legislation for Full Senate Vote

May 22, 2019

Washington, DC — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today passed (20-2) the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act (H.R. 31), a bill which holds Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russia and Iran accountable for war crimes and stifles their ability to finance further human rights abuses.

“Today’s passage takes us one step closer to stopping Assad and his cronies from killing civilians in places like Idlib Province, which remains under sustained aerial assault. We commend Chairman Risch for his leadership in shepherding this bill through the committee, and Chairman Engel of the House Foreign Affairs Committee for introducing the legislation,” said Erica Hanichak of Americans for a Free Syria. “Now it’s up to Leader Mitch McConnell to move quickly to get this bill to the Senate floor and on to the President’s desk.”

Earlier this month, the Syria Study Group recommended passage of Caesar, as did Ambassador James Jeffrey, Special Representative for Syria Engagement, in a hearing today before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The law’s namesake, Syrian forensic photographer “Caesar,” smuggled out more than 50,000 photos of civilians who were brutally tortured and killed in Assad’s prisons, one of the largest single evidence caches ever of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Among the Caesar Act’s provisions are sanctions on the Assad regime and anyone assisting it in carrying out atrocities, sanctions on construction sectors in Syria until the Syrian regime ceases its attacks on civilians and leverage for negotiations through sanctions suspension and renewal authority.

Americans for a Free Syria (AFS) is a non-partisan, non-profit that advocates for human rights, the rule of law and U.S. national security interests in Syria.