Frustration over a war and its crimes

Prosecutor quits Syria’s inquiry over UN inaction

Prosecutor quits Syria’s inquiry over UN inaction

Frustration over a war and its crimes 

A United Nation’s commission probing Syria rights abuses has gathered enough evidence to convict President Bashar al-Assad of war crimes, says a prominent member of the commission, Carla del Ponte. She added that with no international court or prosecutor tasked with the Syrian war crimes cases, justice would remain elusive.

Del Ponte, who prosecuted war crimes in Rwanda and former Yugoslavia, announced last week that she was stepping down from her role as a result of her frustration at the UN Security Council’s. During a panel discussion at the Locarno Fil Festival, she stated, “I am quitting this commission, which is not backed by any political will. I have no power as long as the security council does nothing. We are powerless, there is no justice for Syria”.

The Syrian regime led by Assad denies the reports made public by the commission. These documents recognized widespread war crimes committed by the regime-backed forces and Syria’s security services. Del Ponte, a former Swiss attorney general, joined the three-member Syria inquiry back in September 2012, chronicling incidents such as chemical weapons attacks, a genocide against Iraq’s Yazidi population, siege tactics, and the bombing of aid convoys.

The commission was set up in August 2011 and has regularly reported on human rights violations, but its pleas to observe international law have largely fallen on deaf ears.

Although, the United Nations is setting up a new body to prepare prosecutions, there is no sign of any court being established to bring to justice war crimes committed during the six-and-a-half-year-old war. Nor is there any intention by the UN Security Council to hand over the situation to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

“For six years, the commission has investigated. Now a prosecutor should continue our work and bring the war criminals before a special court. But that is exactly what Russia is blocking with its veto in the UN Security Council”, said del Ponte.

Assad’s government has adamantly denied committing any of the war crimes alleged pinned against him including incidents of chemical attack on his people. He has said repeatedly that his forces turned over all chemical weapons stockpiles in 2013 under a deal brokered by Russia to avoid threatening the United States. The agreement was later protected in a United Nations Security Council resolution.

But US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis previously warned that there was "no doubt" that Syria had, in fact, retained some chemical weapons. An Israeli military assessment also found that Assad's regime was still in possession of "a few tons" of chemical weapons. Israel also reportedly believes the attacks against the civilians were approved by the highest echelons of the Assad regime.

Syria's war began in March 2011 with anti-government protests that spiraled into a complex and devastating conflict that has killed more than 320,000 people.

 

Latin American Post | Carlos Eduardo Gómez Avella 

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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