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Canada activist collects 800,000 documents implicating Assad in war crimes

Civil defense crews and locals conduct search and rescue works amid debris after airstrikes of Assad Regime's warplanes hit the de-escalation zone of Ariha in Idlib, Syria on 12 July 2019. [Muhammed Said - Anadolu Agency]
Civil defence crews and locals conduct search and rescue works amid debris after air strikes of the Assad Regime hit the de-escalation zone of Ariha in Idlib, Syria on 12 July 2019 [Muhammed Said/Anadolu Agency]

A report by Israeli newspaper Haaretz said that a Canadian human rights activist, William (Bailey) Wiley, has collected around 800,000 documents implicating Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in war crimes. Moreover, these documents are being kept in a well-guarded warehouse in a European country.

According to the newspaper, these documents comprise the minutes of hearings and military orders directly issued by Al-Assad, and they have been collected over the last six years, with the help of more than 40 field activists from the fighting zones in Syria. William Bailey, who manages the collection of these documents, hopes that Bashar Al-Assad will one day be brought before international trial for war crimes.

The newspaper pointed out that it conducted a Skype interview with the mentioned activist, who said: “The materials we have collected contain enough testimonies to try him several times. There are solid pieces of evidence of his committing of war crimes, such as cement, and the file is closed.”

According to Haaretz, these documents are kept in an unnamed European city, for fear for the life of the Canadian activist. The documents include photos documenting the atrocities of the crimes of the regime. More than 30,000 photos reveal the horrors of the war in Syria, which according to what the Canadian activist said to Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail: “are part of the most consolidated and documented file since the Nuremberg trials.”

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Wiley added in the interview with Haaretz: “We have succeeded in developing and gathering huge pieces of evidence linking Al-Assad and his close associates in the leadership to war crimes.” According to Haaretz, Willy can be considered either a private spy agency, a self-appointed judge or maybe both.

“For many years, I have been able to closely follow up the restrictions governing the work of official international institutions, what they could do and what they could not,” the newspaper quoted the activist as saying.

According to him, many organisations suffer from two main constraints. The first is their unwillingness to endanger people’s lives and, therefore, to own a small number of field activists, which imposes restrictions on the collection of information and field testimonies. The second restriction is related to bodies, such as the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which do not have the right to initiate testimonies collection and make initiatives. Also, these bodies are “constrained by political and diplomatic considerations that make their activities hard.”

The newspaper pointed out that in the past, Willy served in the Canadian Army. He holds a doctorate in international criminal law and has previously served as a war crimes court adviser against former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milošević.

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