The head of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) on Syria, Catherine Marchi-Uhel, said that IIIM experts and investigators have collected about a million documents relating to violations and crimes committed in Syria. Her remarks came as the Assad regime and its allies continue to bomb towns and villages in Idlib province.
In an interview with Asharq al-Awsat published on Friday, Marchi-Uhel noted that the IIIM task was to collect evidence of crimes by all parties for submission to a national, regional or international tribunal, in accordance with international law.
Commenting on the Syrian government’s refusal to grant the IIIM permission to send investigators to opposition-controlled areas, she said: “You should ask them why they do not cooperate with us… They say there are crimes and if they want to address these issues they must cooperate.”
As for the outcome that has been reached so far, the IIIM president said that until now at least 900,000 documents or 4 billion digital units were collected, adding that a second report would be issued in the coming days.
Marchi-Uhel emphasized the importance of accountability to pave the way for lasting peace. She also stressed that accountability should be part of the political process in Geneva.
She also said that the situation in Syria is the most painful and harrowing that she witnessed in her career.
She stressed the importance of holding those responsible for crimes in Syria accountable, noting that reconciliation was not an easy path.
The IIIM president went on to say that there was no lasting peace in Syria without holding all responsible sides accountable.
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 between January and June, intense fighting took place in Aleppo, northern Homs, Damascus, Rif Damascus, Dara’a, and Idlib governorates.
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, the report said.
The IIIM was formed by a UN General Assembly resolution with the approval of 105 member states, after Russia closed the door to referring the matter to the International Criminal Court(ICC) by a UN Security Council resolution.
The IIIM is investigating violations committed by all parties engaged in the Syrian war as the international body’s responsibility was to investigate the “most serious crimes” committed in Syria since 2011. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Asharq al-Awsat)