Former French judge to lead UN Syria war crimes probe

Catherine Marchi-Uhel will head the UN body to document and prosecute serious violations of international law in Syria.

    More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria [File: Reuters]
    More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria [File: Reuters]

    United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed a French legal expert and former judge on Monday to head the UN investigative body that will help document and prosecute the most serious violations of international law in Syria, including possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced the appointment of Catherine Marchi-Uhel who has been serving as the ombudsperson for the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group and al-Qaeda.

    She was previously a judge in France and an international judge with the UN mission in Kosovo and at the Cambodia court prosecuting leaders of the Khmer Rouge. She also served as senior legal officer at the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and worked in legal positions at the French foreign ministry.

    READ MORE: Syria's civil war explained from the beginning

    The 193-member General Assembly voted last December over strenuous objections from Syria and close ally Russia to establish a new body "to closely coordinate" with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, which was established by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council. The commission said last year that war crimes are "rampant" in Syria.

    UN rights chief urges Syria war crimes probe

    The "International, impartial and independent mechanism," established under UN auspices, is mandated "to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyse evidence of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations and abuses and prepare files in order to facilitate and expedite fair and independent criminal proceedings" in the future.

    The General Assembly asked the secretary-general to arrange for the speedy establishment of the independent body, but it took Guterres, who took office on January 1, six months to announce an appointment.

    The investigative body will initially be funded by voluntary contributions. The assembly has urged all UN member states, especially parties to the conflict, to cooperate with it.

    More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria where a UN Commission of Inquiry has documented cases of torture, summary killings and other atrocities by all sides in the conflict.

    SOURCE: News agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Venezuela in default: What next?

    Venezuela in default: What next?

    As the oil-rich country fails to pay its debt, we examine what happens next and what it means for its people.

    The Muslims of South Korea

    The Muslims of South Korea

    The number of Muslims in South Korea is estimated to be around 100,000, including foreigners.

    What is Mohammed bin Salman's next move?

    What is Mohammed bin Salman's next move?

    There are reports Saudi Arabia is demanding money from the senior officials it recently arrested.