From his perch on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., paired up with U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Mary., who leads Democrats on that committee, to pass an amendment empowering the U.S. government to investigate war crimes committed by the Assad regime leading Syria.
Rubio and Cardin were able to amend the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the Senate on Monday, to include language from the “Syrian War Crimes Accountability Act” which the Florida Republican brought out in April 2017.
A longtime advocate of taking a stronger stance against the Assad government and a supporter of regime change, Rubio teamed up with a host of senators--including Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., to bring out the legislation which mandates the State Department report on war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed during the Syrian civil war. The proposal would also “authorize assistance for investigations and other credible transitional justice efforts, including a potential hybrid tribunal, to hold Assad and his regime accountable for their heinous acts.” Other supporters in the Senate include Republican U.S. Sen. Todd Young of Indiana, Democrats U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and Cardin. The legislation passed the committee but was going nowhere in the full Senate.
On Monday, Rubio weighed in on why he was championing this proposal.
“For over seven years, Bashar al-Assad and his regime have committed horrific war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Syrian people, including women and children,” Rubio said. “As the NDAA heads to conference, America has an opportunity to send a clear message to human rights abusers around the globe. I urge my colleagues to ensure this important provision is included in the final legislation so that those responsible for the repeated use of chemical weapons and other atrocities against the Syrian people are held accountable.”
“The international community must hold Bashar al-Assad accountable for his gross violations of international human rights law, given his role in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Syrians and the displacement of millions more,” Cardin said. “The United States must lead by example in protecting human rights, and these tools will help us better do that. I urge my colleagues in the NDAA conference committee to ensure this amendment is included in the final legislation. We may not be able to undo the devastation Assad has unleashed on his own people, but we can work to hold him accountable and deter others from acting in a similarly monstrous way.”
READ MORE FROM SUNSHINE STATE NEWS