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International Federation for Human Rights & Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression; Open Letter to the Leadership of the UN International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria





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This Open Letter, written by FIDH and the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of expression, offers key recommendations with regard to the adoption of the UNGA A/71/248 resolution (establishing an International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism) and its ‘implementation’ report. It develops six points to be taken into account by the Mechanism’s future leadership:

– First the importance to include the Syrian civil society in order for the Mechanism to become ‘a legitimate and credible contributor in the design and operation of relevant accountability initiatives’, is highlighted. Indeed Syrian actors should not be reduced as info-providers. ‘A two-way dialogue’ needs to be established. Thus the SCM and other Syrian civil society organizations, in their January 2017 joint statement, emphasised the role of the Syrian civil society in the ‘process of determining the Mechanism’s information exchange, sharing and communication policies as well as victim and witness protection and support systems’.

– The second recommendation concerns the establishment of an appropriate methodology for the collection and analysis of evidence. Complying with international legal standards would surely ‘maximise the possibility of admissibility in existing and future criminal justice proceedings’, which could happen in various forums. The FIDH and the SCM promote communication between the Mechanism, judicial and prosecutorial national authorities, civil society organizations and other actors involved in the documentation process.

– Considering that the main accountability avenue remains domestic prosecution, the present letter thirdly encourages ‘clear and effective policies on the practical modalities for information sharing and co-operation between the Mechanism, competent prosecutorial authorities and/or competent courts’.

– The letter refers to the recommendation made in the Joint Statement, in order to ensure the independence and impartiality of the Mechanism, with special regards to its decision-making process, its staff appointment, its funding, its interaction with Member States etc

– The fifth comment reaffirms the necessity to acknowledge the Mechanism’s role within the broader context of transitional justice in Syria.

– Finally the letter emphasises the need for an elucidation and an improvement of the interaction between the UN-led accountability activities and political peace processes.

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