Alyn Smith MEP welcomes partial Syria ceasefire, asks EU to boost NGOs

In today's plenary debate on Syria with the EU's top diplomat Federica Mogherini, Alyn Smith MEP warned that accountability was key for the future of Syria. After hosting an important exhibition on crimes against humanity in Syria last year and inviting leading independent reporters from the field, the Scottish member of the Foreign Affairs Committee called on the EU to support the documentation of war crimes and human rights violations in Syria.

Alyn said:

"The EU is a values-based community and acting as a collective we have, finally, started to see some cause for hope in Syria after all the years of heartbreak.  The EU is in a better position than most to facilitate dialogue to end the bloodshed.  We also have to help Lebanon and Jordan overcome the refugee crisis, and I welcome the reopening of the European Commission's Humanitarian Office (ECHO) in Damascus.

"That being said the importance of ensuring accountability for the crimes committed in Syria should remain high on our agenda: we need to urgently look at how we can better support NGOs documenting human rights violations in Syria."

"There will be no peace without justice, and the way to achieve justice is by making sure we have all the tools at our disposal to document the extremely grave abuses we have seen in Syria, from all sides.  The EU must support NGOs, domestically and internationally, in this vital work."

Alyn's speech to EU High Representative Federica Mogherini is here:

EU High Representative Federica Mogherini replied to Alyn saying that she strongly supported accountability for Syria. She expressed her readiness to directly engage with MEPs to find ways to support NGOs in this field as the efforts go forward.

A recent UN report revealed that Assad had organized the "extermination" of all opposition voices. It also revealed that tens of thousands of prisoners are currently being subject to torture and 300,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed.

Alyn was the lead host of the European Parliament's Ceasar exhibition in July 2015, which documented mass-torture in Syria and is included in the new UN Report: http://www.alynsmith.eu/caesar_syria_torture_exhibition_in_european_parliament

UN Report on "extermination" of Assad's opposition, "Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Deaths in Detention in the Syrian Arab Republic": http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/CoISyria/A-HRC-31-CRP1_en.pdf