April 16, 2018 – Responding to news that inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have still not been granted access by the Syrian authorities to the site in Douma where 75 people were killed last week following a suspected chemical weapons attack by government forces, Sherine Tadros, Head of Amnesty International’s UN Office in New York said:
“The OPCW team must be granted full and unfettered access to the site in Douma without further delay. Their investigation is crucial in uncovering the exact circumstances behind the appalling images that united the world in horror this month. Every day that passes without access makes it harder for them to collect and analyse vital evidence.
“The use of chemical weapons against civilians is prohibited by international law and the Chemical Weapons Convention, to which Syria is a party. Deliberately targeting civilians with this illegal weapon is a war crime.
“While the OPCW’s work is imperative in establishing whether a chemical attack took place in Douma, that is not sufficient to ensure accountability for victims and prevent repetition of such crimes. To this end, UN Secretary- General Antonio Guterres should establish an independent mechanism to attribute responsibility for chemical attacks in Syria, as recently called for by more than 40 international and Syrian NGOs.”
Amnesty International has joined 46 other human rights and humanitarian groups in calling for the UN to establish an investigation to identify those responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria.