September 7, 2017 at 12:00 am
The State of Qatar renewed today its call for the international community to bring war criminals in Syria to an international justice after an independent United Nations (UN) investigation has showed that the Syrian army used Sarin gas during its air strikes on Khan Sheikhun town last April.
The Qatari foreign ministry said in a statement that the impunity of the Syrian war criminals has contributed to the escalation of violence against the Syrian people in “a systematic way.”
The statement stressed on the importance of reaching a political resolution for the Syrian crisis based on the Geneva-1 statement on Syria as well as the UN Security Council resolutions to meet what it described as “the Syrian people’s legitimate aspirations.”
The largest civilian causalities were at the hands ofInternational Coalition Forces and Syrian Regime Forces, with Russian forces distributing significantly less deaths than normal again this month, keeping to the de-escalation agreement of May 2017.
International Coalition Forces were the largest perpetrator with a total of 285 civilians, including 97 children and 58 women throughout the month of August. The second largest portion of civilian casualties were at the hands of Syrian Regime Forces, with a total of 229 civilians, including 24 women and 17 children.
The death tolls perpetrated by ISIS is also noteworthy. The report shows that ISIS killed at least 102 civilians this month, including 22 children and 13 women.
The de-escalation agreement of May 2017 is still in effect in the four established zones of the Idlib governate, nothern Homs, Eastern Ghouta and parts of Daraa and al Quneitra. In May 2017, Russia, USA and Jordan also announced a ceasefire agreement for southwestern Syria including the Daraa, Quneitra and Suwayda governates.
A surprising 69% decrease in killing at the hands of the Syrian-Russian alliance was recorded compared to last April. However, in recent months, there has been a significant increase of deaths at the hands of international coalition forces. This month, they were responsible for a total of 37% of all civilian casualties, 55% of which were women and children.
– Government forces: 229
– Russian forces: 11
– ISIS: 107
– Armed opposition factions: 13
– International Coalition forces: 285
– Other Parties: 73
– Kurdish Forces: 54
Daily Orange File Photo
In an attempt to rid extremist propaganda from its website, the Google-owned platform YouTube has removed thousands of videos documenting human atrocities occurring in the Middle East, according to CNN.
This past June, YouTube announced the transfer from workers monitoring its content to an advanced algorithm that identifies videos containing violent extremism and terrorism. The new technology has inadvertently deleted thousands of videos. Any content stemming from Syria, or various other conflict zones, are at a high risk of being deleted, according to The New York Times.
The Daily Orange spoke with David Crane, professor of practice at the Syracuse University College of Law, to discuss the implications of deleting such videos. Crane is a former chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and founder of the Syrian Accountability Project.
The Daily Orange: To start off, can you talk about what kind of human atrocities are occurring in places like Syria?
David Crane: The conflict in Syria has been going on since March of 2011. It has consumed the lives of over half a million human beings, it has moved out of the country over 10 million human beings and it amounts to many international crimes — what we would call war crimes — and crimes against humanity being perpetrated by all sides.
The D.O.: What role do social media platforms, like YouTube, have in modern warfare?
D.C.: Well, it’s interesting. It’s a fascinating scenario. When I was the chief prosecutor of the International War Crimes Tribunal in West Africa, we went and found the information out the old-fashioned way. There was no such thing — even as late as 2005 — as social media.
All of these social media outlets have really affected the investigation of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide throughout the world in both a positive and a negative way. YouTube is just one of the social media (platforms) that collects, records and puts out on social media information related to war crimes … It’s a new challenge for international prosecutors like myself, as what to do with all of this information. Most of which is not useable in the court of law. So, that’s in a general sense my point.
The D.O.: Recently, YouTube changed its policy from workers manually taking down videos to an advanced algorithm that does it for them. This occurred in June, and since then thousands of videos documenting humanitarian crises have been deleted. What do you think are the immediate implications of removing such videos?
D.C.: What ends up happening is, instead of the consumer deciding whether to look at (the video) or not, we now have an arbitrary decision made by an algorithm that keeps it from the consumer, whether that be someone just interested in Syria, an investigator or a nongovernmental organization using that information for consideration for action.
The arbitrariness of it bothers me. I think it should be left to the consumer and the user of the data versus an algorithm. What ends up happening is that we don’t know what we don’t know.
Someone takes a video of an atrocity taking place in northern Iraq, Kurdistan or something in South Sudan or in Syria … a lot of times YouTube is very useful. You may hear of an incident and go on YouTube and actually see the incident itself, which confirms just in a general way that the incident took place. But, you know, sometimes we don’t even know if something took place now.
The D.O.: One way that YouTube has dealt with the backlash of removing videos is by reinstating them but with an 18-year-old age restriction. Do you think that this suffices? Or, do you think that there are negative implications of creating this image of an “adult-only” war?
D.C.: I’d rather have it the way they have compromised rather than completely shutting it off. It is gruesome. It is difficult. I don’t have a problem with an age restriction based on the content. I’m willing to have that compromise if it allows us to then have the adult consumer have the ability to observe and use this data.
The D.O.: What are the long-term effects of deleting so many of these videos?
D.C.: Well, then we don’t have them. And so we have potential corroborative information that could be of use to those who are cataloging, archiving or investigating war crimes taking place, wherever that may be around the world.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed a French judge after UN General Assembly took rare action
War crimes prosecutors have set to work to establish cases against those accused of some of Syria’s worst atrocities, Catherine Marchi-Uhel, the judge who will run the unit, has revealed.
The International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism was created on the orders of the United Nation General Assembly. Mrs Marchi-Uhel, who was appointed to head the body last July by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, has served as an international judge in Kosovo, Cambodia and at the war crimes court for the former Yugoslavia.
“It is tasked with collecting, consolidating, preserving and analysing information and evidence,” she said of the body. “On the other hand, with preparing files in order to facilitate and expedite fair and independent criminal proceedings, in accordance with international law standards, in national, regional or international courts or tribunals.”
Speaking in Geneva, she said the creation of the mechanism would promote prosecutions of the most serious violations in Syria. Its mandate was to “avoid perpetrators enjoying impunity”.
The team of some 50 people includes lawyers, analysts and computer specialists, some of whom will have to be Arabic speakers to study and analyse all the information collected about the crimes committed in Syria.
“We are talking about crimes against humanity, war crimes, attacks on schools or hospitals, summary executions, violence against women or children,” she said.
She said experience shows that when a prosecutor or an examining magistrate begins to gather evidence in a file, there is an “effect” on the situation.
Mrs Marchi-Uhel promised to work closely with the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria. It publishes a report on its findings every six months and has concluded that all the warring parties have used torture, arbitrary executions or other atrocities.
The UN General Assembly in December set up the international panel to help collect evidence to be used in future cases of war crimes prosecution in a vote of all members in December.
The deaths of more than 320,000 people in Syria have been examined by the UN Commission of Inquiry that has documented cases of torture, summary killings and other atrocities by all sides in the conflict.
The French national previously worked as the ombudsman for a Security Council committee that deals with the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda.
The Swiss judge Carla Del Ponte quit the commission in July, decrying the lack of political backing for its work. “We are powerless, there is no justice for Syria,” she said.
“Everyone in Syria is on the bad side. The Assad government has perpetrated horrible crimes against humanity and used chemical weapons. And the opposition is now made up of extremists and terrorists.”
BEIRUT, Lebanon — For six years, an independent United Nations-appointed panel has documented a litany of war atrocities in Syria that have grown increasingly brazen: torture of prisoners, attacks on hospitals, sexual slavery.
On Sunday, the panel confirmed that one of its three members — Carla del Ponte, a Swiss prosecutor — had resigned.
Speaking by phone from Ticino, Switzerland, late Sunday, Ms. del Ponte said she had hoped the Security Council would either refer the case in Syria to the International Criminal Court or set up a special tribunal. “I was expecting to persuade the Security Council to do something for justice,” she said. “Nothing happened for seven years. Now I resigned.”
Ms. del Ponte said she hoped her resignation would nudge the world body to act. “We are going nowhere,” she said.
The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, as the panel is officially known, has produced a stack of reports that chronicle evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity. It also has compiled names of perpetrators of the most serious crimes, which the panel once threatened to reveal. Its reports are an object lesson in how blatantly the laws of war have been broken, with no near-term prospects of accountability. The panel, at one point, called the Syria conflict “a proxy war steered from abroad.”
Only the Security Council has the authority to refer the conflict to the International Criminal Court. That is unlikely, as Russia, a permanent veto-wielding member of the Security Council, backs the government of President Bashar al-Assad and has directly intervened in the war. So too has the United States, in what it says is an attempt to rout the Islamic State from its strongholds along the Euphrates River.
The General Assembly, responding to the sense of inaction, established late last year a highly unusual office within the United Nations system to compile evidence of war crimes for prosecution in the future.
The commission was appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council, a Geneva-based body made up of 45 countries that Nikki R. Haley, the Trump administration’s envoy to the United Nations, has repeatedly criticized.
In June, the commission said that hundreds of civilians had been killed by United States-led airstrikes in and around Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria. In 2016, it chronicled how government forces had detained and torturedpeople in Syrian prisons. That same year, the commission found that the Islamic State had sold and enslaved minority Yazidi women.
Ms. del Ponte is no stranger to the frustrations of seeking justice for the gravest crimes. She served as a prosecutor in the war crimes court for the former Yugoslavia as well as the special tribunal for Rwanda. She wrote bitterly about how political imperatives obstruct the greater demands for justice.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SN4HR) and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor sent a letter to the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas today, August 5,2017, demanding an immediate investigation into the execution of Palestinian engineer Bassil Kharbatil Al-Safadi, and hundreds of other Palestinians in Syria.
Since the beginning of the 2011 crisis in Syria, Palestinian refugees have faced serious violations that have escalated over time
Under the umbrella of Palestine’s International Criminal Court membership, the PA could investigate and question the Syrian authorities’ actions against the Palestinians of Syria over the past five years.
Since the beginning of the 2011 crisis in Syria, Palestinian refugees have faced serious violations that have escalated over time. “Targeting Palestinians as a separate group has become a goal in itself,” stated a spokesperson for the two London and Geneva-based human rights organizations.
In this context, crimes such the large-scale deliberate killing and targeting of Palestinian civilian neighborhoods and camps, using explosive barrels, arbitrary arrests and torture, which was documented by the two groups, fall within the category of crimes against humanity or war crimes.
The two organizations demanded that the results of the investigation to be submitted to the local Palestinian courts to prosecute those responsible for committing such crimes and to ensure justice and to prevent impunity.