'Criminal' Syrian regime must be held to account: Cameron
BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse
British Prime Minister David Cameron leaves his official residence at 10 Downing Street after a meeting with Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas in central London on March 1, 2012. AFP PHOTO / CARL COURTBritain's Prime Minister David Cameron called today for the "criminal" Damascus regime to be held to account after almost a year of deadly violence in Syria.
"One day, no matter how long it takes, there will be a day of reckoning for this dreadful regime," Cameron said as he joined other European Union leaders on the second day of a two-day summit.
EU leaders will pledge to tighten the noose on President Bashar al-Assad's regime with fresh sanctions during talks later Friday on what Cameron dubbed the "absolutely appalling" situation in Syria.
"It is vitally important that there is humanitarian access into Homs and elsewhere so that people can get the help they need," Cameron said, referring to a flashpoint city that has suffered heavy shelling.
"But above all, what I think matters is building the evidence and a picture so we hold this criminal regime to account and to make sure that it is held to account for the crimes it is committing against its people." A draft statement of summit conclusions obtained by AFP said the 27-nation bloc "confirms its commitment to further increasing the pressure on the Syrian regime as long as the violence and human rights abuse continues".
It also called on EU foreign ministers to prepare further targeted restrictive measures against the regime, which launched a brutal crackdown against protesters that the UN says has killed over 7,500 people since mid-March 2011.
The draft statement says those responsible for violence and human rights abuses "will be held accountable" -- an idea already proposed by French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe at talks with his counterparts last week.
Juppe said he hoped to see the international community reflect on the conditions of a referral to the International Criminal Court. But as Syria was not a party to the Rome convention establishing the court, it would be up to the UN Security Council to initiate any action.
The draft also urges members of the Security Council, particularly Russia and China, "to work together in an effort to stop the violence" and stresses that the Syrian authorities are responsible for the security of foreigners in Syria, including journalists.
EU ministers last week slapped fresh sanctions on Syria, including a freeze on its central bank assets, the 12th round of EU sanctions against Assad's regime.
Measures also included an assets freeze and travel ban on seven Syrian ministers, a ban on trade in gold and precious metals and a ban on cargo flights to the EU operated by Syrians.
The EU has already blacklisted almost 150 Syrian entities and people.