The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on 3 July 2017 appointed a French legal expert and former judge Catherine Marchi-Uhel as the head of the independent panel to assist in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for most serious violations of international law in Syria.
Marchi-Uhel is the first Head of the Mechanism.
The former judge has been serving as the ombudsperson for the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, ISIS) group and al-Qaeda.
Who is Catherine Marchi-Uhel?
• Catherine Marchi-Uhel previously served as a judge in France.
• She also served as an international judge with the UN mission in Kosovo and at the Cambodia court prosecuting leaders of the Khmer Rouge.
• She worked as a senior legal officer at the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and worked in legal positions at the French foreign ministry.
The UN investigative body
• The panel was established by the UN General Assembly in December 2016.
• It was formally known as the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Those Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011.
• In close cooperation with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, the investigative body will collect, consolidate, preserve and analyse evidence pertaining to violations and abuses of human rights and humanitarian law.
• It will also prepare files in order to facilitate and expedite fair and independent criminal proceedings, in accordance with international law standards, in national, regional or international courts or tribunals that have or may in the future have jurisdiction over these crimes, in accordance with international law.
• It will initially be funded by voluntary contributions.
War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in Syria
• Crimes against humanity during the Syrian civil war have been numerous and serious.
• The United Nations reports state that the war has been "characterized by a complete lack of adherence to the norms of international law" by the warring parties who have "caused civilians immeasurable suffering".
• The war has been marked by "devastation and extreme suffering among civilians" and international aid groups "have long denounced the indiscriminate brutality" that has characterized the conflict.
• In March 2017, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 465000 people had died in the conflict, of which 96000 civilians, and an additional 145000 civilians were missing.
• According to various human rights organizations and the United Nations, human rights violations have been committed by both the government and the rebels.
• The Assad regime has been blamed for using chemical weapons against civilians and conducted torture and extrajudicial killings.
• War crimes reported being committed by the Free Syrian Army and other rebel groups include recruiting child soldiers, shelling civilian-populated areas, taking hostages and murdering members of religious minorities, and use of poison gas.
When: Announced on 3 July 2017
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