UN is securing evidence of war crimes in Syria

Feng Xue
By Feng Xue
March 11, 2017News

International law experts, officials, and NGOs met in The Hague on March 9 to help set up a new United Nations body to gather evidence of war crimes in Syria and keep it safe to ensure possible prosecution at a later date.

Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders, who hosted the meeting of over 150 professionals, said the International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism for Syria is “to serve as a hub for gathering evidence for all crimes in Syria.」

“The U.N. evidence database is a vital ray of hope and a sign that justice has not been forgotten,” Koenders said.

There are already many different NGOs who are gathering evidence about Syrian crimes on all sides encompassing “millions of pages and gigabytes of evidence,” Koenders said.

He hailed activists who had risked their lives to smuggle evidence out of Syria. Like a military officer who fled with flash drives hidden in his socks, and a civil servant who escaped “with thousands of pages taped to his body」.

“The people who are helping in securing the evidence are the real heroes of the resistance today in Syria,” Koenders said.

Evidence showing mass crimes is not enough to prosecute. In international tribunals, the highest-ranking officials can be implicated by so-called linkage evidence. Such evidence links the most responsible perpetrators to specific crimes as they are generally ordered by the higher-ups and carried out by those lower in rank.

The Netherlands also called on states to contribute to the international mechanism, which needs an estimated 13 million euros (US$13.8 million) in its first year to keep it going until there can be prosecutions. So far, 4 million euros (US$4.2 million ) has been raised.



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