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Brussels blog by some wire service journalists

UN official says no to Syria amnesty

By DON MELVIN

BRUSSELS (AP) — The U.N.’s top human rights official said Saturday that there should be no amnesty for serious crimes committed in Syria, even if the threat of prosecution might motivate members of the regime to cling to power at all costs.

Asked if Syrian President Bashar Assad should be allowed to leave power in exchange for safe haven, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said international leaders seeking peace may be drawn to

Pillay

 “politically expedient solutions which may involve amnesty or undertakings not to prosecute.”

But she said that would be wrong under international law.

“You cannot have amnesty for very serious crimes,” she told The Associated Press during an interview in Brussels. “So my message is very clear — there has to be accountability.”

Lawyers for former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who was sentenced Wednesday by the Special Court for Sierra Leone to 50 years in prison, had argued that giving him a long sentence would send the wrong message to Assad.

Courtenay Griffiths, an attorney for Taylor, criticized the court for refusing while setting Taylor’s sentence to take into account his decision to step down from power after his indictment in 2003.

“What lesson does that send to President Assad?” Griffiths asked. “Maybe the lesson is: If you are a sitting leader and the international community wants to get rid of you, either you get murdered like Col. Gadhafi, or you hang on until the bitter end.” Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was killed by a mob in October.

READ FULL STORY HERE.

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Don Melvin

Slobodan Lekic

Raf Casert

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