Searching the truth in Syria: a study on the contribution of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism towards the right to truth of victims in light of its unique mandate
This paper explores the contribution of the recently-established International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of those Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011 (the IIIM) towards the right to truth of victims. The analysis first describes how this legal right has emerged in international law, conferring States a duty to provide victims with a full account of the truth about the circumstances that made them so become. Because it is believed to be a general principle of international law, although it seems to offer a powerful tool of redress for human rights violations, the right to truth suffers from a certain degree of broadness and indeterminacy. Accordingly, it is not clear how the international community lives up to its demands. The analysis thus tries to pin down some activities which can meaningfully pay a contribution to its realization in a criminal context. In particular, it identifies practices of documentation, evidence preservation and criminal proceedings as especially useful for the ascertainment of truth. In light of this analysis, a Framework Criteria is laid out and applied to the IIIM to evaluate its contribution in this respect, in view of its unique mandate. The overall finding is that while the Mechanism is an important tool to establish truthful accounts of the violations occurring in Syria, it is rather limited in the extent it can do so. This is mostly due to the prosecutorial-oriented mandate that characterizes it.