Syria


    Carla Del Ponte blasts impunity in farewell speech
    18.09.17
    AFP

    Outgoing Syria war crimes investigator Carla Del Ponte said on Monday she had quit her post out of frustration over "total impunity", in a fiery farewell speech. Del Ponte, an accomplished war crimes prosecutor, announced last month that she was leaving the Commission of Inquiry (COI) for Syria, a UN-backed panel that has collected evidence of alleged atrocities committed in the country since the outbreak of civil war in 2011. "I resign to put an end to my frustration," Del Ponte told the Human Rights Council, after the COI presented its latest report. "Seven years of crimes in Syria...

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    Assad may win war but will preside over a ruined Syria
    11.09.17
    AFP

    Syria's President Bashar al-Assad appears to be winning the war against those who sought his overthrow, but he will preside over a ruined country with an economy in tatters. "Assad remains in charge of most of the population and most of the important territory, and I expect him to continue to rule most of Syria," said Aron Lund, a Syria expert with the Century Foundation think-tank. "The war goes on, but in the larger strategic sense he has defeated those who sought to depose him," Lund told AFP. The writing is on the wall even in the halls of the United Nations, where special envoy...

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    Recap of Syrian chemical weapons attacks since 2011
    06.09.17
    AFP

    United Nations war crimes investigators said Wednesday they have evidence showing the Syrian regime carried out an April sarin gas attack in Idlib province that killed dozens of people. The attack was the latest in a string of chemical strikes since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011. Here is a recap. - Damascus threatens to use chemical weapons - July 23, 2012: The Syrian government acknowledges for the first time that it has chemical weapons and threatens to use them in the event of military operations by Western countries, but not against its own population. The following month, then US president Barack Obama says the use or even movement of such weapons would be a "red...

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    Week in Review: The high price of impunity in Syria and CAR
    11.08.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    This week was marked by the resignation of Swiss war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte from the UN commission investigating crimes in Syria. “This commission does absolutely nothing," explained Del Ponte, accusing UN Security Council members of “not wanting to establish justice”. Russia, ally of Damascus has ever since the commission’s creation six years ago vetoed referring Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and Damascus has never authorized the Commission, which has produced numerous reports, to go to Syria. “Believe me, I have never seen such horrible crimes as are being...

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    Syria and the lessons to be learned from Carla Del Ponte’s resignation
    08.08.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    Criminals like to commit their crimes in the dark. It is on this assumption that justice must be seen to be done if it is to help prevent crime. And so metaphorically, good triumphs over evil and light over darkness. In international public life this conviction has often produced a will to expose publicly the atrocities committed by war criminals, so as to shame them and dissuade others from associating with them. This "naming and shaming" approach was the reason United Nations Commissions of Inquiry were set up and is the preferred method of human rights organizations, convinced that...

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    Veteran prosecutor to quit UN Syria probe that 'does nothing'
    06.08.17
    AFP

    Veteran former war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, who is on a UN commission probing rights abuses in Syria, has said she intends to resign because the body "does absolutely nothing". "I am frustrated, I give up," she told the Swiss newspaper Blick in an interview published on Sunday. "I have written my letter of resignation and will send it in the next few days". Del Ponte, a 70-year-old Swiss national who came to prominence investigating war crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, has been part of the four-member UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria since September 2012. The...

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    Government cynicism and the transitional justice dream in crisis
    21.06.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    What a revealing new development in terms of government attitudes towards international justice: Twenty years ago, it was a source of immense hope, but now it has been reduced to begging from the public to fund the International Mechanism for Syria that was nevertheless set up by the UN General Assembly to gather evidence on serious crimes committed during the Syrian war.    The recent article by our Hague correspondent Stéphanie Maupas sharply reflects the troubled state of international justice and transitional justice more widely. Transitional justice was conceived in the 1990s and...

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    Civil society calls for Syria justice funding as UN drags its feet
    20.06.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    An organization supporting Syrian civil society has launched a call for funding to support the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) for Syria. This Mechanism, approved by the UN General Assembly in December 2016, is supposed to centralize evidence gathered over the last seven years of war and prepare potential war crimes cases for any future tribunal. The UN Secretary General is expected to announce shortly the name of the person to head this Mechanism, but its funding is still not certain. Is justice for Syria too costly for UN Member States? The International,...

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    At UN event, Russia fights back against "fake news" surrounding the battle for Aleppo
    14.06.17
    AFP

    Russia fought back Wednesday against what it called "fake news" surrounding the battle for Aleppo, hosting a UN event with a video appearance by the boy whose blood-streaked face became a symbol of the conflict. The August 2016 footage of the young Omran Daqneesh, shell-shocked and covered in dust while sitting in an ambulance after an air strike, made headlines around the world. The United States described him as "the real face" of the Syrian civil war. He looked dramatically different on Wednesday when he was featured in a Human Rights Council side event hosted by the Russian Mission to the United Nations in Geneva. Russian ambassador Alexey Borodavkin said Wednesday's event was...

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    Building justice for Syria
    24.04.17
    Radwan Ziadeh Senior Analyst Arab Center Washington D.C

    Syria became the place where the most serious war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated, even one day the former secretary general Ban Ki-Moon described of what happened in Aleppo as "synonym for hell." The challenges face the international human rights, and justice communities are vast, where the impunity became the new culture and circle of violence turned to be the only reality. The UN commission of Inquiry documented the patterns of the crimes in Syria, and concluded that there is an "everyday war crimes and crimes against Humanity."   The widespread and the brutality of such crimes requires a response from the international community beyond condemnations and...

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    Week in Review: US strikes in Syria, while Rwanda remembers the genocide
    09.04.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    International justice saw a new failure this week on Syria. The UN Security Council was unable to agree a Resolution after the “chemical weapons” massacre at Khan Cheikhoun which left dozens dead and injured, including children. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called it a war crime, saying that “international humanitarian law has been violated”. Nevertheless opposition from Russia, backer of the Syrian regime, and China prevented a Resolution condemning this massacre blamed on the Syrian air force. This blockage in the UN Security Council has also stopped any moves to refer Syria to...

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    Syrian war crime brings illegal but perhaps legitimate US strikes
    07.04.17
    Pierre Hazan

    Syrian air force use of chemical weapons against civilians is a war crime, or even a crime against humanity. The retaliatory US missile strikes are perhaps legitimate, but certainly illegal under international law.   On Friday August 30, 2013, US President Barack Obama took one of the heaviest decisions of his mandate. He decided to abandon the “red line” that he had himself set. He would not take military action against the Syrian regime, even though it had just used chemical weapons. But new US President Donald Trump took action this Thursday, after seeing the images of dozens of dead...

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    US warns of 'own action' after Syria chemical massacre
    06.04.17
    AFP

    The United States and Russia were on a collision course over Syria on Wednesday after a horrific chemical attack so shocked President Donald Trump that Washington threatened unilateral US action. At least 86 people were killed early on Tuesday in rebel-held Khan Sheikhun in northern Syria and dozens more were being treated after they were found convulsing and foaming at the mouth. After previous major chemical attacks in Syria in 2013, Trump strongly urged then-president Barack Obama not to order military intervention against Bashar al-Assad's regime. And he came to office promising...

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    Can satellite imagery still prove war crimes?
    31.03.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    A few years ago, satellite images were seen as a decisive technological advance that could reveal the truth about war crimes. Satellite images provided essential confirmation of atrocities in Srebrenica and Sudan. But those who violate human rights have learned from this, and are now devising counter-strategies.   When Bosnian Serb forces massacred some 8,000 Muslims in the enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995, photos gathered by US secret service satellites gave the lie to Bosnian Serb nationalist denials. The images of prisoners standing for execution and freshly dug ground at the sites of...

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    Creation of a syrian war crimes database
    09.03.17
    AFP

    Dutch officials on Thursday urged nations to boost efforts to create a database of alleged war crimes in Syria, using evidence smuggled abroad by refugees and investigators. "We already have millions of pages and gigabytes of evidence," Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders told a conference gathering more than 150 experts, diplomats, rights activists and international lawyers. "And millions more are waiting -- hidden in suitcases and banana crates, buried in caves and pits," he said, voicing the hope that "we can use that evidence to build airtight cases against those guilty of the worst...

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    Syria regime, rebels committed war crimes in Aleppo: UN probe
    01.03.17
    AFP

    All Syrian sides that fought in the battle for Aleppo committed war crimes and the deal to evacuate civilians following the rebel defeat was a "crime of forced displacement', a UN probe said Wednesday. The United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) for Syria documented violations including chemical attacks and civilian executions perpetrated during the Damascus regime's five-month siege of eastern Aleppo, which had been a key opposition stronghold. From July 21, 2016 to December 22, when government troops recaptured the city, the Syrian air force and its Russian ally "conducted daily air...

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    Spanish court receives complaint for “State terrorism” in Syria
    09.02.17
    François Musseau, correspondent in Madrid

    French and German judicial authorities have recently been seized of cases against the Bashar Al Assad regime in Syria, which was again denounced this week for allegedly hanging thousands of opponents. But the National Audience in Madrid, Spain’s highest court with jurisdiction in matters of international law and terrorism, is ahead of the game. Prosecutor Javier Zaragoza has recently received a criminal complaint from a woman with dual Spanish and Syrian nationality. In 2014, the Spanish government restricted the country’s ability to act on “universal jurisdiction”, in which Spain had led...

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    Syrian prisons: accusations of torture and executions
    03.02.17
    AFP

    The Syrian regime, accused by Amnesty International of large-scale hangings, had already been criticised for torture and summary executions in its prisons and intelligence services headquarters. Amnesty said on Tuesday as many as 13,000 people were hanged in five years at the notorious Saydnaya military-run prison near Damascus, accusing the regime of a "policy of extermination". Here are some of the accusations that have been made against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. - 'Torture archipelago' - On July 3, 2012, US-based rights group Human Rights Watch said Syria...

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    From Berlin to Aleppo: the need to redefine transitional justice
    19.12.16
    Pierre Hazan

    According to Google, it takes 35 hours to drive by car the 3,397.4 kilometres from Berlin to Aleppo. Metaphorically, the distance is infinitely longer between these two symbolic cities. Twenty-seven years ago, the fall of the Berlin Wall marked the end of the Cold War and gave new impetus to international law. The term transitional justice was about to be invented to reflect the energy of this new wave of democratization that was developing in Europe, Latin America and Africa. Today, from the ruins of tortured Aleppo, we need to rethink transitional justice. In the 1990s, the optimism of...

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    UN rights chief urges Security Council veto limit over Syria
    04.10.16
    AFP

    The UN rights chief on Tuesday called for action to halt the tragedy unfolding in Syria's Aleppo, and urged the Security Council to introduce a limit on its members' veto power. "Faced with such a ghastly avalanche of violence and destruction, extraordinary steps must be taken," Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a statement, condemning the killing of 100 children in 10 days in rebel-held eastern Aleppo. "The UN Security Council should, without any further delay, adopt criteria to restrain members from using the veto when there are serious concerns that war crimes, crimes against humanity or...

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