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Reported to Senate (06/12/2017)

 
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                                                       Calendar No. 134
115th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                 S. 905

  To require a report on, and to authorize technical assistance for, 
accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in 
                     Syria, and for other purposes.


_______________________________________________________________________


                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                             April 7, 2017

   Mr. Cardin (for himself, Mr. Rubio, Mr. Corker, Mrs. Shaheen, Mr. 
Menendez, Mr. Young, Mr. Merkley, Mr. Coons, Mr. Kaine, Ms. Warren, Ms. 
Klobuchar, Mr. Peters, Mr. Blumenthal, Mr. Booker, Mrs. Feinstein, Mr. 
    Markey, Mrs. Gillibrand, Mr. Bennet, Mr. Brown, and Mr. Leahy) 
introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the 
                     Committee on Foreign Relations

                             June 12, 2017

                Reported by Mr. Corker, with amendments
  [Omit the part struck through and insert the part printed in italic]

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
  To require a report on, and to authorize technical assistance for, 
accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in 
                     Syria, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

    (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``Syrian War Crimes 
Accountability Act of 2017''.
    (b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents for this Act is as 
follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.
Sec. 2. Findings.
Sec. 3. Sense of Congress.
Sec. 4. Definitions.
Sec. 5. Report on accountability for war crimes, crimes against 
                            humanity, and genocide in Syria.
Sec. 6. Transitional justice study.
Sec. 7. Technical assistance authorized.
Sec. 8. State Department Rewards for Justice Program.
Sec. 9. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian 
                            Arab Republic.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress makes the following findings:
            (1) March 2017 marks the sixth year of the ongoing conflict 
        in Syria.
            (2) As of February 2017--
                    (A) more than 600,000 people are living under siege 
                in Syria;
                    (B) approximately 6,300,000 people are displaced 
                from their homes inside Syria; and
                    (C) approximately 4,900,000 Syrians have fled to 
                neighboring countries as refugees.
            (3) Since the conflict in Syria began, the United States 
        has provided more than $5,900,000,000 to meet humanitarian 
        needs in Syria, making the United States the world's single 
        largest donor by far to the Syrian humanitarian response.
            (4) In response to growing concerns over systemic human 
        rights violations in Syria, the Independent International 
        Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (referred to 
        in this section as ``COI'') was established on August 22, 2011. 
        The purpose of COI is to ``investigate all alleged violations 
        of international human rights law since March 2011 in the 
        Syrian Arab Republic, to establish the facts and circumstances 
        that may amount to such violations and of the crimes 
        perpetrated and, where possible, to identify those responsible 
        with a view to ensuring that perpetrators of violations, 
        including those that may constitute crimes against humanity, 
        are held accountable''.
            (5) On December 21, 2016, the United Nations General 
        Assembly adopted a resolution to establish the International, 
        Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the 
        Investigation and Prosecution of Those Responsible for the Most 
        Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian 
        Arab Republic since March 2011.
            (6) The 2016 United States Commission on International 
        Religious Freedom Annual Report states that in Syria 
        ``[r]eports have emerged from all groups, including Muslims, 
        Christians, Ismailis, and others, of gross human rights 
        violations, including beheading, rape, murder, torture of 
        civilians and religious figures, and the destruction of mosques 
        and churches.''.
            (7) On February 7, 2017, Amnesty International reported 
        that between 5,000 and 13,000 people were extrajudicially 
        executed in the Saydnaya Military Prison between September 2011 
        and December 2015.
            (8) In February 2017, COI released a report--
                    (A) stating that a joint United Nations-Syrian Arab 
                Red Crescent convoy in Orum al-Kubra, Syria, was 
                attacked by air on September 19, 2016;
                    (B) explaining that the attack killed at least 14 
                civilian aid workers, injured at least 15 others, and 
                destroyed trucks, food, medicine, clothes, and other 
                supplies; and
                    (C) concluding that ``the attack was meticulously 
                planned and ruthlessly carried out by the Syrian air 
                force to purposefully hinder the delivery of 
                humanitarian aid and target aid workers, constituting 
                the war crimes of deliberately attacking humanitarian 
                relief personnel, denial of humanitarian aid and 
                targeting civilians.''.
            (9) On October 21, 2016, the Organization for the 
        Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint 
        Investigative Mechanism transmitted its fourth report, which 
        concluded that the Syrian Arab Armed Forces and the Islamic 
        State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have both used chemical weapons 
        against villages in Syria.
            (10) On August 11, 2016, COI released a report stating that 
        certain offenses, including deliberately attacking hospitals, 
        executions without due process, and the massive and 
        systematized nature of deaths in state-controlled detention 
        facilities in Syria, constitute war crimes and crimes against 
        humanity.
        <DELETED>    (11) Physicians for Human Rights reported that, 
        between March 2011 and the end of July 2016, Syrian government 
        and allied forces--</DELETED>
                <DELETED>    (A) had committed 362 attacks on medical 
                facilities (including through the use of indiscriminate 
                barrel bombs on at least 74 occasions); and</DELETED>
                <DELETED>    (B) had killed 768 medical 
                personnel.</DELETED>
            (11) Physicians for Human Rights reported that, between 
        March 2011 and the end of December 2016, Syrian government and 
        allied forces--
                    (A) had committed 412 attacks on medical facilities 
                (including through the use of indiscriminate barrel 
                bombs on at least 80 occasions); and
                    (B) had killed 735 medical personnel.
            (12) The Department of State's 2016 Country Reports on 
        Human Rights Practices--
                    (A) details President Bashar al-Assad's use of 
                ``indiscriminate and deadly force against civilians, 
                conducting air and ground-based military assaults on 
                cities, residential areas, and civilian 
                infrastructure'';
                    (B) explains that ``these attacks included 
                bombardment with improvised explosive devices, commonly 
                referred to as `barrel bombs' . . .''; and
                    (C) reports that ``[t]he government [of Syria] 
                continued the use of torture and rape, including of 
                children''.
            (13) On March 17, 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry 
        stated: ``In my judgment, Daesh is responsible for genocide 
        against groups in areas under its control, including Yezidis, 
        Christians, and Shia Muslims. . . . The United States will 
        strongly support efforts to collect, document, preserve, and 
        analyze the evidence of atrocities, and we will do all we can 
        to see that the perpetrators are held accountable.''.
            (14) In February 2016, COI reported that--
                    (A) ``crimes against humanity continue to be 
                committed by [Syrian] Government forces and by ISIS'';
                    (B) the Syrian government has ``committed the 
                crimes against humanity of extermination, murder, rape 
                or other forms of sexual violence, torture, 
                imprisonment, enforce disappearance and other inhuman 
                acts''; and
                    (C) ``[a]ccountability for these and other crimes 
                must form part of any political solution''.
            (15) Credible civil society organizations collecting 
        evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide 
        in Syria report that at least 12 countries in western Europe 
        and North America have requested assistance on investigating 
        such crimes.

SEC. 3. SENSE OF CONGRESS.

    Congress--
            (1) strongly condemns--
                    (A) the ongoing violence, use of chemical weapons, 
                targeting of civilian populations with barrel, 
                incendiary, and cluster bombs and SCUD missiles, and 
                systematic gross human rights violations carried out by 
                the Government of Syria and pro-government forces under 
                the direction of President Bashar al-Assad; and
                    (B) all abuses committed by violent extremist 
                groups and other combatants involved in the civil war 
                in Syria;
            (2) expresses its support for the people of Syria seeking 
        democratic change;
            (3) urges all parties to the conflict--
                    (A) to immediately halt indiscriminate attacks on 
                civilians;
                    (B) to allow for the delivery of humanitarian and 
                medical assistance; and
                    (C) to end sieges of civilian populations;
            (4) calls on the President to support efforts in Syria, and 
        on the part of the international community, to ensure 
        accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and 
        genocide committed during the conflict; and
            (5) supports the request in United Nations Security Council 
        Resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), and 2191 (2014) for the 
        Secretary-General to regularly report to the Security Council 
        on implementation on the resolutions, including of paragraph 2 
        of Resolution 2139, which ``demands that all parties 
        immediately put an end to all forms of violence [and] cease and 
        desist from all violations of international humanitarian law 
        and violations and abuses of human rights''.

SEC. 4. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
            (1) Appropriate congressional committees.--The term 
        ``appropriate congressional committees'' means--
                    (A) the Committee on Foreign Relations of the 
                Senate; and
                <DELETED>    (B) the Committee on Foreign Affairs of 
                the House of Representatives.</DELETED>
                    (B) the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate;
                    (C) the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House 
                of Representatives; and
                    (D) the Committee on Armed Services of the House of 
                Representatives.
            (2) Genocide.--The term ``genocide'' means any offense 
        described in section 1091(a) of title 18, United States Code.
            (3) Hybrid tribunal.--The term ``hybrid tribunal'' means a 
        temporary criminal tribunal that involves a combination of 
        domestic and international lawyers, judges, and other 
        professionals to prosecute individuals suspected of committing 
        war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide.
            (4) Transitional justice.--The term ``transitional 
        justice'' means the range of judicial, nonjudicial, formal, 
        informal, retributive, and restorative measures employed by 
        countries transitioning out of armed conflict or repressive 
        regimes--
                    (A) to redress legacies of atrocities; and
                    (B) to promote long-term, sustainable peace.
            (5) War crime.--The term ``war crime'' has the meaning 
        given the term in section 2441(c) of title 18, United States 
        Code.

SEC. 5. REPORT ON ACCOUNTABILITY FOR WAR CRIMES, CRIMES AGAINST 
              HUMANITY, AND GENOCIDE IN SYRIA.

    (a) In General.--The Secretary of State shall submit a report on 
war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Syria to the 
appropriate congressional committees not later than 90 days after the 
date of the enactment of this Act and another such report not later 
than 180 days after the Secretary of State determines that the violence 
in Syria has ceased.
    (b) Elements.--The reports required under subsection (a) shall 
include--
            (1) a description of alleged war crimes, crimes against 
        humanity, and genocide perpetrated during the civil war in 
        Syria, including--
                    (A) incidents that may constitute war crimes, 
                crimes against humanity, or genocide committed by the 
                regime of President Bashar al-Assad and all forces 
                fighting on its behalf;
                    (B) incidents that may constitute war crimes, 
                crimes against humanity, or genocide committed by 
                violent extremist groups, anti-government forces, and 
                any other combatants in the conflict;
                    (C) any incidents that may violate the principle of 
                medical neutrality and, if possible, the identification 
                of the individual or individuals who engaged in or 
                organized such incidents; and
                    (D) if possible, a description of the conventional 
                and unconventional weapons used for such crimes and the 
                origins of such weapons; and
            (2) a description and assessment by the Department of State 
        Office of Global Criminal Justice, the United States Agency for 
        International Development, the Department of Justice, and other 
        appropriate agencies of programs that the United States 
        Government has undertaken to ensure accountability for war 
        crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide perpetrated 
        against the people of Syria by the regime of President Bashar 
        al-Assad, violent extremist groups, and other combatants 
        involved in the conflict, including programs--
                    (A) to train investigators within and outside of 
                Syria on how to document, investigate, develop findings 
                of, and identify and locate alleged perpetrators of war 
                crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide, 
                including--
                            (i) the number of United States Government 
                        or contract personnel currently designated to 
                        work full-time on these issues; and
                            (ii) the identification of the authorities 
                        and appropriations being used to support such 
                        training efforts;
                    (B) to promote and prepare for a transitional 
                justice process or processes for the perpetrators of 
                war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in 
                Syria beginning in March 2011;
                    (C) to document, collect, preserve, and protect 
                evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and 
                genocide in Syria, including support for Syrian, 
                foreign, and international nongovernmental 
                organizations, and other entities, including the 
                International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to 
                Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons 
                Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under 
                International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic 
                since March 2011 and the Independent International 
                Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic; and
                    (D) to assess the influence of accountability 
                measures on efforts to reach a negotiated settlement to 
                the Syrian conflict during the reporting period.
    (c) Form.--The report required under subsection (a) may be 
submitted in unclassified or classified form, but shall include a 
publicly available annex.
    (d) Protection of Witnesses and Evidence.--The Secretary shall take 
due care to ensure that the identification of witnesses and physical 
evidence are not publicly disclosed in a manner that might place such 
persons at risk of harm or encourage the destruction of evidence by the 
Government of Syria, violent extremist groups, anti-government forces, 
or any other combatants or participants in the conflict.

SEC. 6. TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE STUDY.

    Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this 
Act, the Secretary of State (acting through appropriate officials and 
offices, which may include the Office of Global Criminal Justice), 
after consultation with the Department of Justice, the United States 
Agency for International Development, and other appropriate Federal 
agencies, shall--
            (1) complete a study of the feasibility and desirability of 
        potential transitional justice mechanisms for Syria, including 
        a hybrid tribunal, to address war crimes, crimes against 
        humanity, and genocide perpetrated in Syria beginning in March 
        2011; and
            (2) submit a detailed report of the results of the study 
        conducted under paragraph (1), including recommendations on 
        which transitional justice mechanisms the United States 
        Government should support, why such mechanisms should be 
        supported, and what type of support should be offered, to--
                    (A) the Committee on Foreign Relations of the 
                Senate;
                    (B) the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House 
                of Representatives;
                    (C) the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate; 
                and
                    (D) the Committee on Appropriations of the House of 
                Representatives.

SEC. 7. TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE AUTHORIZED.

    (a) In General.--The Secretary of State (acting through appropriate 
officials and offices, which may include the Office of Global Criminal 
Justice), after consultation with the Department of Justice and other 
appropriate Federal agencies, is authorized to provide appropriate 
assistance to support entities that, with respect to war crimes, crimes 
against humanity, and genocide perpetrated by the regime of President 
Bashar al-Assad, all forces fighting on its behalf, and all non-state 
armed groups fighting in the country, including violent extremist 
groups in Syria beginning in March 2011--
            (1) identify suspected perpetrators of war crimes, crimes 
        against humanity, and genocide;
            (2) collect, document, and protect evidence of crimes and 
        preserve the chain of custody for such evidence;
            (3) conduct criminal investigations;
            (4) build Syria's investigative and judicial capacities and 
        support prosecutions in the domestic courts of Syria, provided 
        that President Bashar al-Assad is no longer in power;
            (5) support investigations by third-party states, as 
        appropriate; or
            (6) protect witnesses that may be helpful to prosecutions 
        or other transitional justice mechanisms.
    (b) Additional Assistance.--The Secretary of State, after 
consultation with appropriate Federal agencies and the appropriate 
congressional committees, and taking into account the findings of the 
transitional justice study required under section 6, is authorized to 
provide assistance to support the creation and operation of 
transitional justice mechanisms, including a potential hybrid tribunal, 
to prosecute individuals suspected of committing war crimes, crimes 
against humanity, or genocide in Syria beginning in March 2011.
    (c) Briefing.--The Secretary of State shall provide detailed, 
biannual briefings to the appropriate congressional committees 
describing the assistance provided to entities described in subsection 
(a).

SEC. 8. STATE DEPARTMENT REWARDS FOR JUSTICE PROGRAM.

    Section 36(b)(10) of the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 
1956 (22 U.S.C. 2708(b)(10)) is amended by inserting ``(including war 
crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide committed in Syria 
beginning in March 2011)'' after ``genocide''.

SEC. 9. INDEPENDENT INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY ON THE SYRIAN 
              ARAB REPUBLIC.

    The Secretary of State, acting through the United States Permanent 
Representative to the United Nations, should use the voice, vote, and 
influence of the United States at the United Nations to advocate that 
the United Nations Human Rights Council, while the United States 
remains a member, annually extend the mandate of the Independent 
International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic until 
the Commission has completed its investigation of all alleged 
violations of international human rights laws beginning in March 2011 
in the Syrian Arab Republic.
                                                       Calendar No. 134

115th CONGRESS

  1st Session

                                 S. 905

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL

  To require a report on, and to authorize technical assistance for, 
accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in 
                     Syria, and for other purposes.

_______________________________________________________________________

                             June 12, 2017

                        Reported with amendments

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