16 Jan 2013

War crimes investigation wanted in Syria

4:31 pm on 16 January 2013

Fifty-seven countries asked the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to refer the conflict in Syria to the International Criminal Court for a war crimes investigation.

Switzerland sent a petition requesting the move to the Security Council, the only body that can refer the case to the ICC.

"We are firmly of the view that the Security Council must ensure accountability for the crimes that seem to have been and continue to be committed in the Syrian Arab Republic and send a clear signal to the Syrian authorities," read the letter sent by Switzerland.

"The situation on the ground has only become more desperate, with attacks on the civilian population and the commission of atrocities having almost become the norm," read the letter.

World powers are divided over how to stop the fighting in Syria.

Russia and China have acted as Syria's protector on the council by repeatedly blocking Western efforts to take stronger action, such as sanctions, against the Syrian government.

The signatories included Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. New Zealand, Australia, Japan and a number of African and Pacific nations also endorsed it.