A mechanism initiated by Qatar and some other countries for a fact-finding mission in Syria, has resulted in equipping the international community better to achieve accountability, a senior official has said.

Catherine Marchi-Uhel, head of the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism to assist in the investigation and prosecution of persons responsible for serious crimes in Syria, was speaking to Gulf Times on Sunday.

She is attending the ‘International Conference on National, Regional and International Mechanisms to Combat Impunity and Ensure Accountability under International Law’ organised by National Human Rights Committee.

Marchi-Uhel noted that on several occasions there were attempts to have a resolution at the UN Security Council to refer the situation of Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“This was blocked politically as some states vetoed the proposal in the UN Security Council. It was at this time, Qatar, Liechtenstein and a small group of countries started to think out of the box,” said Marchi-Uhel.

“They thought that they could do something without referring the matter to the ICC. They figured that apart from a public report on the atrocities, there would be a possibility of preserving the evidence and analysing it and supporting prosecution by building cases, by sharing information and evidence with those prosecutors who are working on those cases,” explained Marchi-Uhel.

The official said that Qatar was part of this initiative which resulted in the adoption of the proposal by the UN General Assembly, establishing a mechanism for Syria.

“This initiative has led to another one for establishing a mechanism for the situation of Rohingyas in Myanmar” she noted.

“I was appointed in August 2017 and the mechanism became operational from May 2018. We are not reporting publicly on the substantive aspects. We have already collected over a million of records, an equivalent of four terabytes of data- information and pieces of evidence” she described.

“We are working extensively to document those records and we receive request for assistance from prosecutors and we are helping them. We have the mandate to look at the most serious crimes committed from all sides during the conflict,” highlighted the official.

“It is getting tighter now for many of the people who are accused. You have now international arrest warrants issued against some of them,” added the official.