UN sets up special team to prepare Syria war crimes cases

UN General Assembly voted to establish the panel with 105 in favour, 15 against and 52 abstentions.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Several civilians were caught in the crossfire as regime forces took over Aleppo, stirring concerns over human rights abuses.

The United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday voted to establish a special team to prepare cases on war crimes and human rights abuses committed during the conflict in Syria.

The panel will also aim to "collect, consolidate, preserve and analyse evidence” and will work in coordination with the UN Syria Commission of Inquiry.

The General Assembly adopted a Liechtenstein-drafted resolution to establish the independent team with 105 in favour, 15 against and 52 abstentions. Syrian regime and its allies, Russia and Iran, spoke against the resolution.

Liechtenstein UN Ambassador Christian Wenaweser told the General Assembly ahead of the vote: "We have postponed any meaningful action on accountability too often and for too long."

He said inaction has sent "the signal that committing war crimes and crimes against humanity is a strategy that is condoned and has no consequences."

The special team will "prepare 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 that have or may in the future have jurisdiction over these crimes."

The UN resolution calls on all states, parties to the conflict, and civil society groups to provide any information and documentation to the team.

Inquiry on aid convoy bombing

The decision to establish the team comes as a UN inquiry found that it was unable to identify the perpetrator of an attack on an aid convoy in Syria in September. 

The inquiry found that "multiple types of munitions deployed from more than one aircraft and aircraft type", though it noted that only Syrian, Russian and US-led coalition aircraft had the capability to carry out such an attack, not opposition forces.

It said it was "highly unlikely" that US-led coalition aircraft were involved in the attack.

10 people were killed and 22 injured when ammunition from unidentified aircraft hit an aid convoy in September. (Reuters)

The inquiry said at least 10 people died and some 22 people were injured in the September attack on the UN and Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy at Urem Al-Kubra near the northern city of Aleppo, which also destroyed 17 trucks. 

TRTWorld and agencies