Minister of Foreign Affairs takes action on Syria’s human rights violations

News release

March 4, 2021 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today announced that Canada has requested formal negotiations, under the United Nations Convention Against Torture, to hold Syria accountable for the countless human rights violations it has inflicted on the Syrian people since 2011. These violations formed the basis of a similar request by the Netherlands in September 2020 and have been well documented by the UN Human Rights Council’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, among others.

Canada has repeatedly called on the Assad regime to end the egregious human rights abuses against its own citizens, including notably, by leading a widely supported UN General Assembly resolution to mobilize the international community to this effect. Despite these calls for justice, Syria has denied and ignored demands to respect human rights. This is why Canada is taking steps to request negotiation of its dispute under the UN Convention Against Torture. Syria must answer for its grave breaches of international law.

Today’s action underscores Canada’s long-standing position that human rights are non-negotiable. Syrians have lived through a decade of unspeakable suffering at the hands of the Assad regime. A sustainable peace will only be possible once those responsible for these abuses are held to account.  

Canada will continue to work with the international community to support justice initiatives and combat impunity for crimes committed in Syria.


“For the last decade, the Syrian regime has inflicted brutal and shocking attacks on its own people. It is our hope that today’s action serves to bring us closer to truth, justice and accountability. The people of Syria deserve nothing less.”

- Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Quick facts

  • For 10 years, Syria’s Assad regime has committed flagrant and egregious violations of international law, including the use of chemical weapons, arbitrary detentions, summary executions and torture of civilians, among other crimes.

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Syrine Khoury
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs

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