The French National Assembly has passed a bill presented earlier by Government to authorise the approval of the international judicial cooperation agreement between the French Government and the IIIM. Amongst other things, the agreement would allow information to be transmitted from French courts to the IIIM, which had not been possible under current law.
Geneva, 13 January 2022 – The International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism – Syria (IIIM) welcomes the landmark judgement against Anwar R, at the Higher Regional Court in Koblenz, Germany. The former high-ranking Syrian official was found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in torture, murder and sexual violence in his previous position as Head of the Investigation Department of Branch 251 of the Syrian intelligence services.
This verdict concludes a trial that saw many survivors of Branch 251 give witness testimony, and prosecutors make use of evidence and information that many actors and particularly Syrians, have bravely documented, collected and shared with accountability bodies.
Catherine Marchi-Uhel, the Head of the IIIM, said “The Koblenz ruling is highly significant not only for the direct victims and survivors these crimes, but also for the victims and survivors of the many unaddressed past and on-going violations in Syria. We must acknowledge that there is still much work to be done for justice to be delivered. This verdict reminds us all of what is possible and should leave perpetrators of serious crimes in no doubt that there will be accountability for their actions.”
Germany’s use of universal jurisdiction holding perpetrators of international crimes committed in Syria accountable, shows the vital role national jurisdictions play in providing paths to justice for victims/survivors of crimes committed in Syria. While no international court currently exists, national jurisdictions must continue to uphold international law by bolstering their own laws and processes. The IIIM’s Central Repository of Information and Evidence is a powerful resource for national war crimes units seeking to investigate and prosecute suspects.
“Sharing evidence and analysis is one leg of what is essentially a lengthy relay race of many accountability actors,” Ms. Marchi-Uhel stated “Our role at the IIIM is justice facilitation. We make use of information and material we have collected from many others and share it along with legal analysis and other support to jurisdictions, with the hope that it leads to many more trials and verdicts like those in Koblenz.”
While the IIIM does not comment on its involvement in specific cases, it is a matter of public record that the IIIM is supporting German jurisdictions. The IIIM seizes all available avenues for justice and prepares for those that may emerge in the future. Its primary purpose is to assist competent jurisdictions seeking to investigate and prosecute alleged perpetrators of international crimes committed in Syria since 2011.
This op-ed examines the possibility of carrying out investigations into the war crimes that have been committed in Syria internationally, and how investigations at the national level have been more feasible yet remain marred by several barriers. To access this op-ed, click here.
Catherine Marchi-Uhel, the Head of the IIIM, attended an international justice conference on October 26 2021, in Dakar. In conversation with Philipp Ambach, the ICC’s Chief of the Victims Participation and Reparations, the discussion covered the work of the IIIM, its applicability to the context of West Africa, and current features in the international justice scene.
To access the French language conference report, click here. To access the English language conference report, click here. Arabic copy to follow shortly.
To facilitate efforts by Swedish law enforcement authorities to investigate crimes committed by Da’esh terrorists, the Swedish Government entered into a cooperation agreement with the UN International Impartial and Independent Mechanism.
In this Human Rights Council side event, and in his capacity of overseeing the Information and Systems Management (ISMS), Keith Hiatt talks about how the IIIM makes use of computer advances to maximise use of the information it collects.
Ten years after the beginning of the Syrian Civil War, the political process continues to be frozen in Syria. In this setting, bringing justice to the victims becomes synonymous with the alleviation of suffering. It is for this reason that the United Nations General Assembly decided in 2016 to create a mechanism, the IIIM, to investigate the most serious crimes committed in the country. Since 2017, the IIIM has worked tirelessly to collect evidence of these crimes before passing it to national courts that might decide to prosecute war crimes committed in Syria. This is how millions of documents are analysed by the team, which is headquartered in a mansion located right next to the Palais des Nations in the Ariana Park in Geneva.
Catherine Marchi-Uhel is the head of the International, Impartial and Independent investigation Mechanism into the most serious crimes committed in Syria, and she is our guest of the week.
Listen to this podcast here. The podcast is in the French language.