First Published: 2017-09-18

Outgoing Syria war crime investigator slams UN impunity
Accomplished prosecutor Del Ponte quits Commission of Inquiry for Syria to end frustration over lack of tribunal against ‘seven years of crimes’ in war-torn country.
Middle East Online

COI has accused all sides, including the government and rebels, of committing war crimes

GENEVA - 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 and total impunity. That is not acceptable".

Del Ponte, a Swiss national, worked on the international tribunals that prosecuted war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

She said that when she joined the COI she did not anticipate that the international community would fail to set up a court capable of trying crimes committed in Syria.

The commission has repeatedly urged the United Nations Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court, an effort that has been blocked by the Damascus regime's ally Russia.

"Why is it not possible to have a tribunal?" Del Ponte asked, addressing some of her farewell remarks directly at Syria's UN ambassador Hussam Edin Aala.

The COI has accused all sides -- including the government and rebels -- of committing war crimes in Syria.

Its most recent report, submitted to the rights council on Monday, charged Damascus with carrying out a chemical attack which killed dozens of people in Khan Sheikhun in April.

A new UN body -- called the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism -- has recently started work in Geneva with a mandate to prepare cases against specific individuals.

Del Ponte called that effort "a little step towards justice".

But the mechanism's chief, Catherine Marchi-Uhel of France, cautioned earlier this month that her office was not a court and had no power to bring international charges.


Two Danes stabbed by man shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ in Gabon

UN considers rejecting Trump Jerusalem decision

Israeli air traffic halted due to strikes

Iran's schools suffocate in smog

Christmas in Jordan dimmed by Jerusalem crisis

Turkey slams Austria ‘discrimination’

Tunisia elections delayed

Istanbul summit strong on the rhetoric, weak on concrete steps

Morocco’s Islamists elect new leader, walking away from predecessor’s populism

Palestinians call for protests against Pence Jerusalem visit

Palestinian billionaire detained in Saudi Arabia

Egypt opens Rafah crossing for four days

Turkey court releases 7 suspects in New Year attack trial

Palestinian activist killed in Gaza protests

Foreign fighters a worry as IS struggles to survive

Over half Syrian refugees in Lebanon live in 'extreme poverty'

Palestinians killed in continuing protests over Jerusalem occupation

Bourita: Extraordinary meeting between ECOWAS, Morocco to be held beginning of 2018

Saudi-led air strikes, clashes as Yemen forces battle rebels

Sahel force funding shows terrorism fight is Saudi 'priority'

UN 'appalled' at mass execution of jihadists in Iraq

Iraq's Sistani says Hashed should be under government control

Middle-class Egypt adapts as costs soar

Somalia's budget meets IMF terms

Israel PM questioned in graft probe

US says Iran supplied ballistic missile to Yemen rebels

Lebanon approves bid for oil, gas exploration

US to present 'irrefutable evidence' of Iran violations

Istanbul 'to remove Gulen links' from street names

Iraq hangs 38 jihadists

Pence to visit Middle East despite controversy

Hamas chief calls for continued Jerusalem protests

EU to repatriate 15,000 migrants from Libya in two months

Syria Kurds fear US ally will desert them after IS defeat

Israeli drugmaker Teva to cut 14,000 jobs over two years

Turkey rescues 51 migrants stranded on rocks

Saudi, UAE hold talks with Yemen Islamists

18 killed after bomber strikes Mogadishu police academy

Israeli air strikes target Hamas military facilities

US-led air strikes kill 23 civilians in Syria

Israel union calls nationwide strike over pharmaceutical giant job cuts

UN envoy urges Putin to press Assad for elections

Yemen's Huthi rebels release pro-Saleh media staff

Israel intelligence minister invites Saudi prince to visit

Saudi-led strikes kill 30 in rebel-run Yemen prison