GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The UN Human Rights Council Friday 28 September appointed Carla del Ponte, at Switzerland’s behest, to its Council of Inquiry (COI) on Syria.
The former prosecutor for the international war tribunals for Rwanda and ex-Yugoslavia brings a wealth of investigative experience to the COI, says the Swiss Federal Council.
Her nomination “will help improve the collection of proof of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria in order to facilitate their use in the contect of future criminal charges”, the Swiss government says in a statement.
Her appointment, notes news agency AP, “came as a sign of stepped-up efforts to gather evidence against members of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.”
Reuters notes that “The appointment of such an experienced lawyer as del Ponte suggests the United Nations is determined to try to build a solid criminal case and bring human rights violators to justice,” and the news agency cites European Union Ambassador Mariangela Zappia and Peter Splinter, a spokesperson for Amnesty International, both of whom praised the strong skills she brings to the COI.
Del Ponte’s new role is part of broader efforts Friday to step up evidence-gathering as the war in Syria drags on, with the COI being given a new mandate for six months.
Del Ponte and a second commissioner named Friday, Vitit Muntarbhorn of Thailand, join two others on the COI, Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro who heads it and American Karen Abuzayd, who has held several UN posts, including working for 19 years for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, some of that time in Geneva.
Reuters notes that Del Ponte’s appointment
The Human Rights Council voted 41-3 to continue the evidence-gathering mandate, with China, Cuba and Russia voting against it. Three countries abstained.
Voice of America says the COI’s “staff and resources are also set to be boosted”.