French FM: Syrian amnesty for prisoners not enough

Alain Juppe says Syria must take "clearer, more ambitious" steps; Australia calls on UN to refer Assad to Int'l Criminal Court.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)
PARIS - France said on Wednesday that Syria's amnesty after a crackdown that killed hundreds of protesters had come too late and called for a more fundamental change in policy to deal with protests sweeping the country.
Syrian President Bashar Assad issued a general amnesty on Tuesday following loud international condemnation of his repression of ten weeks of protests against his 11-year rule.
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"I fear it may be too late," France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told France Culture radio. "The Syrian authorities' change of direction will have to be much clearer and more ambitious than a simple amnesty."
Click for full Jpost coverage of turmoil in the Middle East
Click for full Jpost coverage of turmoil in the Middle East
Earlier Wednesday, Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd called on the UN to consider referring Assad to the International Criminal Court, AFP reported.
Rudd said he had widened sanctions on Syria to include more individuals associated with the Assad, and that he would discuss additional legal steps with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
"I believe it is high time that the Security Council now consider a formal referral of President Assad to the International Criminal Court," Rudd was quoted as saying to the National Press Club. "I am corresponding with the UN secretary general today and the president of the Security Council today on that matter."
Rudd's comments come after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday said the reported torture of a Syrian boy shows the "total collapse" of Syrian authorities' willingness to listen to anti-government protesters.
In some of her harshest comments about Syria's crackdown on the protests, Clinton suggested the Assad government's hold on power was weakening, while a US spokesman described the 13-year-old boy's reported treatment as "horrifying" and "appalling."
"Every day that goes by the position of the government becomes less tenable and the demands of the Syrian people for change only grow stronger," Clinton said.
Also commenting on the torture of the 13-year-old boy, Rudd was quoted by AFP as saying, "When you see the large-scale directed action by a head of government against his own civilian population, including the murder of a 13-year-old boy and his torture, then the deepest question arises in the minds of the people of the world as to whether any claim to legitimacy remains," Rudd said.
The Australian foreign minister added that the "brutal act" was carried out by a "desperate regime," and that he believed the boy's death would "further galvanize the international community in their attitude to the brutality being deployed in Syria at present by the regime against innocent people."
In the latest round of violence on Monday, four civilians were killed with when Syrian security forces entered the central town of Talbiseh to crush dissent against Assad, a human rights group reported.