Friday, 21 September 2018 17:54

UN Judge Set to Open War Crimes Cases Over Syrian War

The UN judge responsible for preparing war crimes charges against individuals over the Syrian conflict said Thursday her office plans to open at least two cases by year's end.

Catherine Marchi-Uhel, a French national, heads the body known as the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM), which is tasked with bringing those responsible for the most serious crimes in Syria to justice.

"We expect to open two or more specific investigative case files before the end of this year," Marchi-Uhel told reporters in Geneva, without providing details.

Last week, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said that the Assad regime had displaced over one million people during the first four months of 2018, the highest level in the seven-year conflict.

In a report released on Wednesday, the Geneva-based Commission said that the majority of the displaced people are "now living in dire conditions." It also said the Assad regime used chemical weapons in three occasions in the same period.

The report highlighted six key battles that led to mass internal displacement and the plight of those civilians uprooted from their homes. It noted that most battles that were fought by the Assad regime forces and their allies were marked by war crimes including launching indiscriminate attacks, deliberately attacking protected objects, using prohibited weapons, pillaging and/or forced displacement.

In building her cases, Marchi-Uhel said she would focus in part on crimes representative of the widespread violations committed during the conflict as well as acts that had a large impact on the broader war.

Marchi-Uhel described her office as a "quasi-prosecutor" which will be looking to share files with regional and national courts, in addition to the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

In an interview with Asharq al-Awsat published last week, Marchi-Uhel emphasized the importance of accountability to pave the way for lasting peace in Syria. She also stressed that accountability should be part of the political process in Geneva.

Moreover, Marchi-Uhel said that IIIM experts and investigators have collected about a million documents relating to violations and crimes committed in Syria, adding that the Assad regime did not respond to her requests to visit Damascus or to meet with her in Geneva or New York. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)

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