‘We Are Powerless’: UN Syria Investigator Quits Over Lack Of Political Backing

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Carla del Ponte, a member of the UN commission of inquiry on Syria, said her work was ‘not backed by any political will’. — AP

Swiss former attorney general, Carla del Ponte, investigating Syria atrocities says: ‘I have no power as long as the security council does nothing’

A MEMBER of the UN commission of inquiry on Syria said on Sunday she was quitting because a lack of political backing from the security council had made the job impossible, according to reports.

Carla del Ponte, 70, who prosecuted war crimes in Rwanda and former Yugoslavia, told a panel discussion on the sidelines of the Locarno film festival she had already prepared her letter of resignation, said Swiss national news agency SDA.

“I am quitting this commission, which is not backed by any political will,” she said, adding that her role was just an “alibi”. “I have no power as long as the security council Del Ponte, a former Swiss attorney general, joined the three-member Syria inquiry in September 2012, chronicling incidents such as chemical weapons attacks, a genocide against Iraq’s Yazidi population, siege tactics, and the bombing of aid convoys does nothing,” she said. “We are powerless, there is no justice for Syria.”

The UN commission of inquiry said in a statement del Ponte had informed colleagues in June of her decision to leave in the near future. It said the investigations would continue.

“It is our obligation to persist in its work on behalf of the countless number of Syrian victims of the worst human rights violations and international crimes known to humanity,” the commission said.

Del Ponte’s departure leaves only two commissioners, Brazil’s Paulo Pinheiro and Karen Koning AbuZayd from the US.

What we have seen here in Syria, I never saw that in Rwanda, or in former Yugoslavia, in the Balkans. It is really a big tragedy, she added. “Unfortunately we have no tribunal.”

The commission was set up in August 2011 and has regularly reported on human rights violations, but its pleas to observe international law have largely fallen on deaf ears.

Although the UN is setting up a new body to prepare prosecutions, there is no sign of any court being established to try war crimes committed in the six-and-a-half year-old war, or of any intention by the security council to refer the situation to the international criminal court in the Hague.

Del Ponte’s determination to be independent made her outspoken and occasionally controversial. She shocked western governments in May 2013 by declaring that the UN had “strong suspicions” of Syrian rebels using sarin gas.

Two years later, she said justice would catch up with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, even if he remained in power under a negotiated peace settlement.

Earlier this year, when the commission reported on Syrian government aircraft deliberately bombing and strafing a humanitarian convoy, del Ponte hinted at her frustration with the inability to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“What we have seen here in Syria, I never saw that in Rwanda, or in former Yugoslavia, in the Balkans. It is really a big tragedy,” she added. “Unfortunately we have no tribunal.” — Reuters

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Clarion India - News, Views and Insights about Indian Muslims, Dalits, Minorities, Women and Other Marginalised and Dispossessed Communities.

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