Switzerland condemns the use of chemical weapons in the conflict in Syria

Press release, 05.04.2017

Switzerland is deeply concerned about reports of another suspected chemical weapons attack yesterday in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun, causing dozens of civilian victims. It demands a thorough investigation into the attack, and it calls on all parties to the conflict in Syria to refrain from using chemical weapons and to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law.

The UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have already on multiple occasions found evidence of chemical weapons use in the conflict in Syria. Switzerland condemns in the strongest terms the use of chemical weapons and stresses that all parties to the conflict are prohibited from such use at all times and under all circumstances.

New violations must be prevented at all costs, and serious crimes should not go unpunished, regardless of which side committed them. Switzerland supports various mechanisms and institutions that seek to clarify the facts independently and secure evidence for subsequent prosecution at the regional, national and international level.

Given the critical importance of establishing the facts in this regard, Switzerland values and actively supports the current OPCW/UN fact-finding missions. Switzerland is directly involved in the investigation of several cases, with its Spiez Laboratory analysing samples from Syria, and has contributed financial, material and human resources to several UN and OPCW missions specific to Syria. Switzerland welcomes the fact that these most recent allegations will also be investigated.

Switzerland reiterates its call to the Security Council, already made in 2013, to refer the situation in Syria unreservedly to the International Criminal Court so that this body can investigate such and other serious violations of international humanitarian law by all conflict parties and, in doing so, stem the prevailing culture of impunity for serious crimes.

Switzerland will continue its humanitarian efforts in Syria and in neighbouring countries that are absorbing large numbers of refugees. In addition, it will continue to offer its good offices to facilitate a lasting peace that respects the rights of all Syrians. This conflict can be settled by political means only.

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Federal Department of Foreign Affairs