Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act
The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act is the name of several proposed bipartisan bills by the United States Congress to sanction the Syrian government. It intends to financially punish Bashar al-Assad and his associates as long as his regime is committing war crimes against the Syrian population.
The bill also targets individuals and businesses who provide funding or assistance to the president of Syria. A number of Syrian operated industries, including those related to infrastructure, military maintenance and energy production, would be targeted. Iranian and Russian entities are addressed for their governments' support of Assad in the Syrian Civil War. If passed by the Senate and signed into law by the President, the legislation would impose fresh sanctions on entities conducting business with the Syrian government and its military and intelligence agencies. It also aims to encourage negotiations by allowing the President to waive sanctions if the parties are engaged in meaningful negotiations and the violence against civilians has ceased.
This bill is named after an individual known as Caesar, who documented torture against civilians by Assad's government, which was verified to become known as the Caesar Report or 2014 Syrian detainee report. Human Rights Watch (HRW) further investigated this report, and produced an additional report titled If the Dead Could Speak. Photographic evidence from the 2014 Syrian detainee report has been on display at the United States Holocaust Museum and at the United Nations.
The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019 has become a part of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020 (S1790) as House of Representatives report 116-333. The House Committee Report, including Caesar has passed the Senate on December 17, 2019 with bipartisan support from both chambers of Congress. It is expected to be passed into law.
A spokesperson for Americans for a Free Syria claimed tens of hospitals in Syria have been bombed by Russia since April 2019. Caesar sanctions are intended to address crimes by the Syrian regime and its allies Russia and Iran. Sanctions are also to discourage foreign investors from doing business with Assad's regime, in an effort to not reward war crimes.
Past versions of the bill included surveying the proposal of instituting no-fly zones over Syria.
The neighboring countries might have been affected from the sanctions such as Jordan.
S52/HR31 and related amendments of 116th Congress
This version did not include investigating military means of protecting civilians. HR 31 was amended by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on June 3, 2019 to include congressional briefings by the President of military means meant to protect civilians, and obtaining data from organizations and countries in relation to Syria.
HR1677 of 115th Congress
HR5732 was reintroduced into the 115th Congress as HR1677. This bill passed the House, but stalled in the Senate. It was reintroduced into the next Congress as HR31.
HR5732 of 114th Congress
The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2016 was a long-waited act drafted by the United States Congress by both Democrats and Republicans during a lame duck session sanctioning the Syrian government. On November 15, 2016, it passed the House unanimously as The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act (HR 5732). This bipartisan legislation would have imposed new sanctions upon the Syrian government.
This version of legislation would also have required the U.S president to report to Congress on the prospects for a no-fly zone in Syria. The bill would have authorized the Secretary of State to support entities that are collecting and preserving evidence for the eventual prosecution of those who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria from March 2011 to the present, and would have required the President to report to Congress on the names of those who are responsible for or complicit in gross violations of human rights of the Syrian people.
No Assistance for Assad Act
A related bill, No Assistance for Assad Act has been introduced into the House of Representatives twice. HR4681 of 115th Congress has passed the House, but action hasn't been taken on it in the Senate. This bill has been reintroduced into the 116th Congress as HR1706, and this version is still in the House of Representatives. This bill would prevent funding reconstruction of Syrian regime held areas until war crimes were verified as halted.
- Josh Rogin (December 11, 2019). "The United States is about to sanction Assad, Russia and Iran for Syrian war crimes". Washington Post.
- "NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2020: CONFERENCE REPORT TO ACCOMPANY S. 1790". congress.gov. December 2019. Retrieved December 11, 2019.
- "S.1790 - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020: Actions". congress.gov. December 2019. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
- Simon, Mallory; Boulduan, Kate (December 17, 2019). "He smuggled war crimes evidence and begged the US for help. Now Congress is finally acting and set to sanction Syria". CNN.
- Amos, Deborah (December 17, 2019). "Congress Authorizes Sanctions On Syria, Iran And Russia". NPR.
- "U.S. punishes Syria with sanctions — but allies like Jordan also pay a price". Los Angeles Times. September 10, 2019. Retrieved September 10, 2019.
- "H.R.31 - Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019". 2019. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
- Rogin, Josh (July 14, 2016). "Congress launches Syria sanctions drive". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
- "Engel & Royce Syria Sanctions Bill Passes House - Committee on Foreign Affairs".
- "Congress Introduces Bipartisan Bill Increasing Sanctions on Syria". Retrieved July 15, 2016.
- Cupp, SE; Meriden, Suzanne; Kinzinger, Adam; Boyle, Brendan (September 18, 2018). "In Syria, is the worst yet to come?". CNN.
- Harris, Bryant (November 1, 2019). "Congress sounds alarm on weaponization of Syrian aid". AL Monitor.
- "Bills in the 116th Congress: H.R. 31 Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019". National Cable Satellite Corporation. 2019.
- "Statements about H.R.31: Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019". Pro Publica. 2019.
- "Risch Commends Passage of Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, Among Others, in Productive Business Meeting" (Press release). US Senate. May 22, 2019.
- "Menendez Lauds Committee Passage of Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act" (Press release). US Senate. May 22, 2019.
- Christiane Amanpour (March 12, 2019). "Amanpour". Caesar Discussion. CNN. Caesar Discussion.
- "'Caesar's' plea to the US Senate: Act on behalf of Syria's victims". The Hill. October 11, 2019.
- "H.R. 1706: No Assistance for Assad Act". GovTrack.us.
- "H.R. 4868: Stop UN Support for Assad Act of 2019". GovTrack.us.