Syrian Accountability Project: Matt's Memo
When Syrian President Assad ordered the Sarin Gas attack on his people April 4th word quickly spread around the world of the suffering. The video of children struggling to survive captured America's attention. The act and those pictures prompted the Trump Administration to launch 59 Tomahawk missiles from the Mediterranean Sea.
That chemical attack also triggered a protocol set in place by Professor David Crane of the Syrian Accountability Project. He instructed his team of highly engaged graduate students to compile a White Paper that described the Sarin gas attack. The report would gather first hand accounts from Syria. It would sample media coverage, gather official statements. It would cite legal standards such as the Pro Se ban of the use of Sarin gas under the 1925 Geneva accords.
The Syrian Accountability Project is doing work on the Syracuse University campus that is not being done anywhere else in the world. Every day a group of more than 40 students at the Syracuse University College of Law pour through materials related to the fighting, the atrocities and the human struggle in Syria. They have been building a case of crimes against humanity over the last six years.
Upon the release of this quickly assembled, yet highly detailed report we scheduled a Skype conversation with Professor Crane. He makes his home in North Carolina, but regularly travels to Syracuse during the academic year to teach the only course of its kind in the country. The international crimes course is unique because of Crane's background. He was the founding Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. He was appointed to that post by the Secretary General of the United Nations. His work led to the imprisonment of the leader of Sierra Leone.
In our conversation we talked about the advantage of compiling a real time case against a national leader lake President Assad. Crane contends that the war crimes case is building against Assad. We don't know when the time will come that prosecution will be possible, but the work of the Syrian Accountability Project is creating a package of documentation that now exceeds 27,000 pages. That information, including the new white paper, is shared with the United Nations, the State Department and others with interests in prosecuting crimes against humanity.