UN experts asks US to remove sanctions on Syria

Alena Douhan, UN special rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, has called on the United States to remove the sanctions on Syria.  

“The sanctions violate the human rights of the Syrian people, whose country has been destroyed by almost 10 years of ongoing conflict. “The conflict and violence have already had a dire impact on the ability of the Syrian people to realise their fundamental rights, having extensively damaged houses, medical units, schools, and other facilities,” she said. 

The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, also known as the Caesar Act, contains the most wide-ranging U.S. sanctions ever applied against Syria.  

“I am concerned that sanctions imposed under the Caesar Act may exacerbate the already dire humanitarian situation in Syria, especially in the course of COVID-19 pandemic, and put the Syrian people at even greater risk of human rights violations,” Douhan said.  

“When it announced the first sanctions under the Caesar Act in June 2020, the United States said it did not intend for them to harm the Syrian population,” she said. “Yet enforcement of the Act may worsen the existing humanitarian crisis, depriving the Syrian people of the chance to rebuild their basic infrastructure.”  

The Caesar Act raises serious concerns under international law because of its unfettered emergency powers of the Executive and extraterritorial reach, she said. It also results in the high risk of over-compliance. 

“What particularly alarms me is the way the Caesar Act runs roughshod over human rights, including the Syrian people’s rights to housing, health, and an adequate standard of living and development. The U.S. government must not put obstacles in the way of rebuilding of hospitals because lack of medical care threatens the entire population’s very right to life.”, the SR said. 

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