Friday, 26 May 2017

Pledges on Syria

Syrian groups in the UK have proposed a set of pledges on Syria to candidates in the 2017 General Election. Jonathan Brown, Chair of the Lib Dems for Free Syria and standing as a candidate in the General Election for Chichester, has responded below.

If elected MP, I pledge to:

1. Affirm the democratic right of Syrians to choose their own future free from dictatorship and terror.

Yes. Liberal Democrats believe in democracy, the rule of law, and self-determination.

2. Call for the UK to track and publish details of military aircraft flights by the Assad regime and Russia that may be responsible for unlawful attacks on civilians.

Yes. During the last Parliament, Liberal Democrat MPs raised this issue on a number of occasions with the Government in relation to Syria. This included writing directly to the Secretary of State for Defence and also tabling Parliamentary Questions asking why the Ministry of Defence decide to withhold this information, despite it being readily available for commercial flights. However, the Government refused to disclose this information.

3. Call for drone aid airdrops to besieged civilians to provide immediate relief and add pressure for full ground access.

Yes. In March 2016 Liberal Democrats called for the creation of humanitarian corridors and no-fly zones over Syria.

4. Call for the UK to help enforce an end to attacks against civilian targets by the Assad regime and its allies.

Yes. In addition to the above, in March 2016 Liberal Democrats called for the support of moderate opposition groups in Syria and where possible their protection from abuses by the Assad Regime and Russia.

5. Call for widened sanctions against the Assad regime and its supporters for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Yes. We will also work to deter the use of chemical and conventional attacks on civilians and demand humanitarian access and the release of political prisoners and their families.

6. Call for the UK to pursue all avenues to bring perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity to justice, including through universal jurisdiction as well as international legal mechanisms.

Yes. Liberal Democrats believe strongly that full investigations must take place into breaches of international humanitarian law in Syria and we strongly support measures to gather information of such crimes so that all available information can be used as evidence.

7. Call for the UK to pursue a ‘Uniting for Peace’ vote in the UN General assembly recommending action to protect civilians.

Yes. We will seek new ways to bring an end to the conflict in Syria, working within the UN to break the deadlock in the Security Council.

8. Demand the highest standards of accountability of all our Coalition partners for air strikes taking place in Syria.

Yes. Liberal Democrats demanded the government honour its commitment to provide regular updates to Parliament on the status of military operations in Syria.

I hope other candidates—standing for all parties—will pledge to support Syrians too.

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