A UN quasi-prosecutorial body said that war crimes investigators and activists have amassed an “overwhelming volume” of testimony, images and videos documenting atrocities committed during Syria’s war.
The team, led by former French judge Catherine Marchi-Uhel, said it is preparing case files and has engaged with war crimes investigative units of various states including in Europe, whose courts can exercise universal jurisdiction to prosecute.
In the future, an existing body – such as the International Criminal Court – or a new court could be given jurisdiction for Syria, according to the report, the body said in its first report which was issued on Monday.
The team expects to finalize an agreement soon with the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Syria on getting access to testimony and evidence collected by that separate team of UN investigators for the past six years, the report said.
“The volume of videos and other images – as well as the role played by social media – is unprecedented in any other accountability process with respect to international crimes to date,” said the report by Marchi-Uhel’s team.
The report noted that there was a need to sure “fair representation” by prosecuting crimes committed on all sides, and sexual and gender-based crimes, as well as violations against children, will be a priority.
Meanwhile, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday said that “Russia has covered up for the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons in Syria. This has allowed the Syrian regime to continue to perpetrate atrocities against Syrian people.”
May also said that her government had evidence Russia had explored ways of exporting nerve agents over the past decade, likely for the purposes of assassinations.
In a report released on March 15, the UN Commission of Inquiry said that the Assad regime and its allied militias had used rape and sexually violence against Syrian women, girls and men in a campaign to punish all those who opposed the regime. The report said that these acts constituted war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The Commission of Inquiry has previously accused the Assad regime and its allied militias of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, including mass executions.” The Commission also said it had compelling evidence of the Assad regime’s involvement in chemical attacks against civilians claiming thousands of lives. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)