Press Release

ADL's Task Force on Middle East Minorities Welcomes House's Passage of Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act

New York, NY, January 24, 2019 … The Anti-Defamation League’s Task Force on Middle East Minorities welcomed the passage of the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019 (H.R. 31) by the House of Representatives. This bill is a critical piece of legislation to help support the safety of civilians in Syria, including ethnic and religious minorities, which are amongst the most vulnerable populations in the area.

The bill imposes comprehensive sanctions on Syrian regime officials and individuals from other countries, including citizens of Russia and Iran, who are responsible for intentional attacks and other egregious human rights abuses against civilians in Syria. The bill also calls on the President of the United States to articulate a strategy to help facilitate the ability of humanitarian organizations to access financial services for the safe and timely delivery of assistance to communities in need in Syria.

The Act specifies a series of benchmarks for the sanctions to be suspended, in full or in part, by the U.S. President, if certain criteria have been met. These benchmarks include cessation of violence against civilians, and the opening of areas that are currently cut off from international aid by the governments of Syria, Iran, and Russia.

Task Force Member Aykan Erdemir, Senior Fellow at Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, stated that, “The unanimous passing of the Caesar Bill sends an important message of solidarity to Syria’s vulnerable groups, who have been victims of torture and mass killing at the hands of state and nonstate actors. At a time when Syria’s ethnic and religious minorities increasingly feel abandoned, H.R. 31 reaffirms that there will be no impunity not only for the perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but also for their enablers. The bill also serves as a deterrent to other autocrats by demonstrating that indiscriminate targeting of civilians has consequences for them and their collaborators.”

Task Force Member Alireza Nader, who is also the Chief Executive of New Iran, issued the following statement: “This is the right step to hold the genocidal Assad regime and its supporters accountable. It is important that the Islamic Republic of Iran also be held accountable for its crimes in Syria and that its top officials be held responsible by the U.S. and international community for its support of the Assad regime.”