Ex-UN prosecutor urges Syria war crime probe
By Jonathan Fowler, AFPGENEVA--Former chief U.N. prosecutor Carla del Ponte said Monday that the International Criminal Court should be called in to probe war crimes in Syria and bring the perpetrators to justice.
February 19, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
Issuing a report by a U.N. commission of inquiry that found war crimes by both government forces and rebels were spiraling amid an increasingly radicalized and sectarian conflict, del Ponte said it was time to act.
“We suggest the International Criminal Court (ICC). We can't decide, but we are pressuring the international community to act, because it's time to act,” said del Ponte, a member of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry.
“It's time to react. After two years, it's incredible that the Security Council hasn't made a decision,” she told reporters in Geneva as the team prepared to submit a list of perpetrators who should face justice.
“Justice must be imminent, urgent. The number of victims is increasing day to day. Justice must be done.”
The decision to refer the conflict to the ICC lies with the U.N. Security Council, where there are deep rifts between Western members and Russia, a longstanding ally of Syria's regime, plus China.
China has backed Russia in vetoing Security Council resolutions that would have put greater pressure on President Bashar al-Assad's regime. Beijing has also repeatedly urged dialogue to end the violence.
Speaking by telephone from his homeland Brazil, the commission's chief Paulo Pinheiro refused to be drawn on the names on the list of individuals and Syrian military and rebel units accused of war crimes.
The commission is due to submit the list to the U.N.'s human rights office next month, potentially setting the wheels of international justice in motion, but has said it will not make it public.
Del Ponte gained renown for her tough stance as the U.N.'s top prosecutor investigating war crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
“I'm not the prosecutor dealing with this case. Unfortunately,” she said Monday.