UN, ICC Have Reasonable Basis for US War Crimes in Syria

TEHRAN (FNA)- A former French judge has been appointed as the head of an independent team tasked with investigating war crimes in Syria.

Catherine Marchi-Uhel was appointed by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to lead a panel known as the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism which aims to gather, preserve, and analyze potential evidence of serious violations of international law committed in Syria since 2011 for use by courts or an international tribunal. The legal team, established in Geneva, was created by the UN General Assembly in December 2015.

Many have applauded the move, including Human Rights Watch who noted that the team is “critical for the long march to justice,” stating: “For victims who have known nothing but suffering, despair, and abandonment, the creation of this team represents a small step in the difficult struggle for justice, redress and an end to impunity that has marked the bloody conflict.”

Though the exact figure is uncertain, estimates of casualties from the 7-year long war range from 320,000 to over 400,000. A UN International Commission of Inquiry has comprehensively documented atrocities committed by all parties to the conflict, including systematic attacks on hospitals and schools. Several countries have already begun their own investigations into war crimes in Syria including Sweden which prosecuted a former Syrian opposition fighter for war crimes in December 2016. But that’s just not enough. What about the United States, its coalition members and their terrorist proxy forces?

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the American armed forces and their terrorist allies have committed war crimes by dropping bombs, killing innocent civilians and torturing detainees in Syria. This raises the possibility that American forces and American officials could be indicted even though Washington has not joined the global court. They have subjected an entire nation to murder, forced displacement, rape, cruel treatment, hunger, siege and outrages upon personal dignity on the territory of Syria since 2011.

The International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, therefore, can and should seek authorization to open a full-scale investigation in Syria that could lead to war crimes charges against the Americans – with no strings attached and certainly no politicization of the process. This is important, because Elizabeth Trudeau, the spokeswoman for the State Department, says the US does not believe an ICC investigation is “warranted or appropriate”. She also claims that “the US is deeply committed to complying with the law of war, and we have a robust national system of investigation and accountability that more than meets international standards.” This is rubbish.

Not even one person in the US has ever been charged, or will ever be charged, with committing war crimes in Syria. That’s something that will never happen, just as it won’t at the International Criminal Court because the US has not signed up. However, even though the US is not a member of the court, Americans who are not prosecuted at home could still face prosecution at the ICC headquarters in The Hague because they have committed, and continue to commit, war crimes within its jurisdiction in Syria which is a member.

Investigations also are reportedly under way in Poland, Romania and Lithuania, which are all signatories to the Rome statute. That means, they can also look into crimes at secret CIA detention facilities in those countries. The abuse charges are there in a wide-ranging annual report into the prosecution office’s preliminary examinations, which involve studying reports of possible crimes to establish if they fall under the court’s jurisdiction. The US forces have also used torture and committed other atrocities in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Pentagon regime and its terror affiliates have killed tens of thousands of people and are suspected of committing war crimes including murder, and attacking civilians, hospitals, schools, markets, and humanitarian workers.

Prosecutors at the ICC have already concluded that American soldiers and intelligence officers have committed war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is no reason to think they have not committed similar crimes in Syria. This brings us to the subject and another report at hand:

Massive civilian death toll from US bombing in Mosul. The Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights says nearly 700 civilians have been killed by US-led air strikes or ISIL actions in Mosul. The Pentagon regime says it will investigate. It is doubtful that any Pentagon official or military commander will ever be held to account.

As long as the ICC prosecutors allow this immoral pattern to continue, the United States and its lackeys will continue to get away with murder. They will never launch a single investigation into civilian casualties. They will never put their feet down, nor will they ever make their forces face the international consequences of their war crimes.

Human Rights Watch and others describe these measures as being illegal under the Geneva Conventions. Likewise, the ICC says these war crimes can be prosecuted in the United States through the War Crimes Act of 1996. Now that the US government does not accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court over its nationals, the ICC should step in and prosecute.