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Call for concerted global efforts to combat impunity

Call for concerted global efforts to combat impunity

Hisham Aljundi
Doha
Prime Minister and Minister of Interior HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al Thani opened the International Conference on National, Regional and International Mechanisms to Combat Impunity and Ensure Accountability under International Law, in Doha on Sunday.
Organised by the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) in partnership with the European Parliament, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, the conference called for concerted efforts to end impunity, enforce the rule of law and punish the perpetrators.
The war in Syria and Yemen were on top of the agendas of the speakers who came from 250 different international organsiations.
NHRC Chairman HE Dr Ali bin Smaikh al Marri said the conference is taking place at a difficult time the world is going through and there is an urgent need to support the rights of victims through legislation and mechanisms to prevent violations of human rights.
He said participation of more than 250 international organisations and representatives of ministries, research centres and experts demonstrated the importance the international community attaches to combating impunity.
“This conference is the first of its kind in the region, which reflects the strong will of Qatar to establish peace and provide redressal of grievances to the victims wherever they may be,” he said.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said achieving accountability and ending impunity must be a priority for the international community.
“Societies that undergo conflicts or face authoritarian regimes must have their grievances addressed… While the road towards justice may be fraught with challenges, it remains indispensable for societies to truly heal. Various experiences have demonstrated that without justice, peace remains an illusion. Asserting accountability and countering impunity are preconditions to sustainable peace,” Bachelet said.
Catherine Marchi-Uhel, President of the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism to assist in the investigation and prosecution of persons responsible for the most serious crimes committed in Syria, said the victims of the most conflicts around the world have not been able to obtain the required justice. “We are here today to look into mechanisms to reduce human rights violations and the fight against ongoing atrocities around the world,” she said.
Uhel stressed that the conflict in Syria is the best documented since World War II, noting that the situation in Syria has shifted from a peaceful protest movement to a terrifying armed conflict.
Chair of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights Antonio Panzeri said the establishment of the principle of accountability as a central pillar of the architecture of international justice will be the most important factor in winning the fight against impunity for serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law.
The international community needs a renewed sense of vigor and unity to guide the fight against impunity in these worrying times for humanity, he added.
Chair of the Global Alliance of the National Rights Institutions (GANHRI) Dr Carlos Negret Mosquera said the lack of justice and difficulties in its administration lead to violence, fragile societies, lack of trust in institutions, human rights violations, and resentment, and disturb the social order.
The protection of human rights is an obligation that requires efforts by different social stakeholders and institutions, he said, adding that this implies ensuring adequate access to justice to fight corruption and fully guarantee a welfare state.
Moreover, the Head of the UN Independent Investigation Commission in Syria, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, said more than 70,000 human rights violation were recorded in Syria and some of the violations committed in Syria reached the level of war crimes, pointing out that the continued non-accountability and prosecution of those responsible for the violations represents a model for the failure of the international community as a whole.
He said some countries had begun to think of innovative ways, which resulted in the United Nations decision in 2016 to establish a neutral and independent mechanism to address human rights violations, a crucial step in laying the foundations for justice and ensuring that evidence is collected and dealt with in accordance with international criminal standards.
Besides, Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Center for Protection Responsibility, said that impunity is one of the main causes of violence and war crime, and that the lack of justice for perpetrators is contagious for other to commit the same crimes.
Adams noted the necessity of concerted international efforts to prevent such incidents from repeating such as occurred in Syria where the Syrian regime launched chemical attacks on civilians in 2013 and was not prosecuted for the crime afterwards, which made them repeat the same chemical attacks six times after the absence of a real deterrent. He also urged the US and the UK to stop selling weapons to the parts of struggle in Yemen who committed documented war crimes.

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