Following the approval late last year of an independent panel to assist in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria, the United Nations on Thursday announced that the mechanism will be headed by a senior judge or prosecutor with extensive criminal investigations and prosecutions experience.
Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, said that the mechanism will be established in phases until it is fully functioning and the Secretary-General will announce the person leading it by the end of February.
The head of the mechanism, which is formally called the ‘International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Those Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011,’ will be assisted by a deputy and a secretariat.
The resolution approving the mechanism was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 21 December by a recorded vote of 105 in favor and 15 against, with 52 abstentions. It was presented to the UN General Assembly by Qatar and Liechtenstein.
That resolution asked the Secretary-General to develop the Terms of Reference for the Mechanism and to report back on the implementation of the resolution. The Secretary-General on Thursday submitted documents to the General Assembly on those issues.
The documents made clear that the Mechanism has two main tasks: to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyze evidence of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations and abuses; and to prepare files in order to facilitate and expedite fair and independent criminal proceedings, in accordance with international law standards, in national, regional or international courts or tribunals that have or may in the future have jurisdiction over these crimes, in accordance with international law.
The UN Secretary General will announce the appointment of the head of the Mechanism by the end of February.
The Assad regime and the Iranian-backed militias continue to commit the most heinous war crimes in Syria through indiscriminate bombardment of residential using internationally prohibited weapons such as poison gas, white phosphorus, napalm, and cluster bombs.
According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, over 16,000 people were killed across Syria in 2016 as a result of bombardment by the Assad regime and its allies. The Network said that at least 12,958 barrel bombs hit the rebel-areas in 2016, causing dozens of massacres. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office of + Agencies)