UN expert urges US to lift sanctions against Syria

A UN human rights expert has called on the US to remove unilateral sanctions that may prevent the rebuilding of Syria’s civilian infrastructure destroyed by the decade-long conflict.

In a statement on Tuesday, Alena Douhan, UN special rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, said that the sanctions violate the human rights of the Syrian people, whose country has been destroyed by almost 10 years of conflict, reports Xinhua news agency.

“The conflict and violence have already had a dire impact on the ability of the Syrian people to realize their fundamental rights, having extensively damaged houses, medical units, schools and other facilities,” she said.

According to the UN expert, the broad sweep of the US sanctions law that went into effect in June could target any foreigner helping in the reconstruction of the devastated country, and even employees of foreign companies and humanitarian operators helping rebuild 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 the Covid-19 pandemic, and put the Syrian people at even greater risk of human rights violations,” Douhan said.

The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, also known as the Caesar Act, is a US legislation that sanctions the Syrian government, including President Bashar al-Assad, for war crimes against civilians.

The Act was signed into law by US President Donald Trump in December 2019, and came into force on June 17, 2020.

“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,” she added.