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International investigators moving closer to bringing justice to Syria war victims

March 10, 2019 at 10:35 pm

A Syrian child receives medical treatment after the Assad regime carried out a poisonous gas attack in Eastern Ghouta, in Damascus, Syria on 7 March 2018 [Dia Al Din Samout/Anadolu Agency]

The head of the United Nations International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, Catherine Marchi-Uhel said international investigators are moving closer to bringing justice for the Syrian war victims.

Speaking to Reuters, the former French judge said her office had received 15 requests from national judicial or prosecution authorities for cooperation on Syria-related cases in five countries, and have collected nearly one million records related to Syria war.

“We are progressing I have no doubt, we are going in the right direction,” she said, adding “we are already going in that direction of identifying the most serious crimes, identifying perpetrators, not just physical perpetrators but those who orchestrated, assisted or condoned the commission of crimes that are really our mandate”.

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The judge declined to name the countries she cooperated with, but said her 32-member team had collected nearly one million documents, videos and witness testimonies which are being analysed by investigators, lawyers, and “e-discovery officers”.

“My mandate is to investigate the most serious crimes from all sides and do preparatory work for those most responsible for those crimes to face justice,” she said.

“I don’t sign off on any indictment. With the team we have stopped when we consider a case is ready (for prosecution) … These things take a long time. It is not a bad sign, it means authorities are working seriously” she added.

Efforts have repeatedly failed to prosecute members of the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, especially as Syria did not sign the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.