Pass “Caesar”! Human Rights Coalition Urges Senate to Stop Civilian Attacks by Assad and His Allies
Leader McConnell Must Act on H.R. 1677 Before End of Session
November 26, 2018
Washington, DC — Today, the Coalition for a Democratic Syria called for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to move H.R. 1677, the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, to the Senate floor for a full vote.
For two years, Congress has developed widely bipartisan legislation to hold Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accountable for his war crimes and stifle his ability to access funds from Russia, Iran and others to continue committing human rights atrocities. H.R. 1677 has passed the House twice and cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in September, all without opposition. The House has signaled it will pass the Senate version, so the full Senate vote is effectively the final hurdle before passage into law.
The groups released the following statement:
“Caesar’s heroism exposed to the world Bashar al-Assad’s horrific and ongoing brutality against the Syrian people, and Congress must act now to stop his reign of terror. Since the Syrian regime violently cracked down on peaceful protesters in March 2011, Assad and his allies have destroyed the country and instigated a global humanitarian crisis. And Caesar’s photo evidence is undeniable—the Assad regime has detained, tortured and executed tens of thousands of Syrian civilians.
“The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act ensures the United States takes forceful action to restrict the ability of Assad and his allies like Russia and Iran to commit further human rights abuses. It also supports investigations that are crucial to prosecuting war criminals.
“We respectfully urge Senator Mitch McConnell to schedule floor time for H.R. 1677, either alone or attached to another bill. The United States must not let another year pass without implementing these effective actions to prevent Assad from carrying out further atrocities and bring criminals to justice.”
- “Caesar” is the pseudonym of a Syrian photographer conscripted by the Assad regime to take photos of civilians who were brutally tortured and killed in the bowels of Bashar al-Assad’s prisons. For two years, Caesar smuggled out more than 50,000 photos and then fled Syria in 2013, taking with him one of the largest single caches ever demonstrating evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
- In July 2014, Caesar testified and shared the evidence before Congress. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) then introduced legislation which:
- Sanctions the Assad regime and anyone assisting him in carrying out his atrocities through military or financial means.
- Encourages negotiations through sanctions suspension and renewal authority.
- Supports entities collecting and preserving evidence of war crimes for eventual prosecutions.
- Requires the identification of military and non-military U.S. means to protect civilians against bombardment, sieges and forced displacement.
- Encourages the naming and shaming of human rights abusers via a required presidential report to Congress.
The Coalition for a Democratic Syria is a group of Syrian-American non-profit organizations working toward a swift end to the conflict and the establishment of peace, freedom and democracy in Syria. The multi-ethnic, multi-confessional, non-partisan coalition includes Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF), Americans for a Free Syria (AFS), Syrian American Council (SAC), Syrian Christians for Peace, and the American Syriac Union.