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Sareta Ashraph

  • Call: 2002
  • 2004 (Trinidad and Tobago)
Legal 500 UK Awards 2015: Winner
"An absolutely outstanding barrister"

Chambers UK, 2019

"Provides focused and incisive advice, and is an extremely effective advocate in the field of international law who has set out key findings concerning the notion of genocide. She has drawn attention to an area and issues that need to be kept in the spotlight."

Chambers UK, 2018

Practice

Sareta specialises in international criminal, humanitarian, and human rights law. She is currently a consultant with the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011, established in December 2016 by UN General Assembly resolution 71/248.

From May 2012 to November 2016, Sareta served as the Analyst on the International Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, documenting violations of international law in the context of the ongoing conflict in Syria. While there, Sareta led the investigation and drafting of the Commission’s June 2016 report “They Came to Destroy: ISIS’s Crimes Against the Yazidis”, which determined that ISIS was committing the crime of genocide.

Immediately prior to her work on the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Sareta served as the Analyst on the International Independent Commission of Inquiry on Libya, examining alleged violations of international law by pro-Qadhafi forces,  anti-Qadhafi armed groups, and NATO. In 2010 and 2011, Sareta was a Legal Adviser to the Office of the Public Counsel for the Defence in the International Criminal Court. In 2009, Sareta worked as a Legal Consultant to the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, also known as the Goldstone Inquiry.

From 2004 to 2009, Sareta was Co-Counsel on the Defence team representing Issa Sesay (interim Leader of the Revolutionary United Front) before the Special Court for Sierra Leone. She has a continuing interest in access to justice issues in Sierra Leone and, in 2010, worked in Sierra Leone as an consultant to the Open Society Justice Initiative.

Sareta was the Global Practitioner-in-Residence at Stanford Law School in 2017, and the Wasserstein Fellow at Harvard Law School in 2015. She is a member of the Advisory Council of the International Legal Assistance Consortium, and Chair of the Board of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center. She is on the roster of defence legal consultants to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Sareta is also a HEAT-trained Deployable Civilian Expert (Gender, Conflict and Stability) with the UK’s Stabilisation Unit, and is a rostered expert in the investigation of sexual- and gender-based violence with Justice Rapid Response.

Since 2013, Sareta has consistently been listed as ranked Practitioner in the field of International Criminal Law by Chambers and Partners.

“She is an absolutely outstanding barrister” who “goes the extra mile and does more than is asked of her.”
Chambers UK 2019

“Provides focused and incisive advice, and is an extremely effective advocate in the field of international law who has set out key findings concerning the notion of genocide. She has drawn attention to an area and issues that need to be kept in the spotlight.”
Chambers UK 2018

“She is reasonable, extremely hard-working and a very good writer.” “She provides incredibly focused advice in a timely manner and has practical experience of complex cases. She is able to bridge the gap between the theoretical and the practical.”
Chambers UK 2016

“Regularly instructed by the United Nations to monitor potential breaches of international law as conflicts unfold.”
Chambers UK 2015

“Very eloquent in her pleadings, and approaches legal issues in a very intelligent and methodical manner.” “Has a strong reputation for both her advisory and advocacy experience at the UN and before the international criminal courts.”
Chambers UK 2014

Background

Sareta is particularly interested in the gendered strategies and impact of serious crimes under international law. She is currently researching and writing on gender and genocide, with specific reference to the ongoing genocide of the Yazidis by ISIS.

Sareta is a national of Trinidad and Tobago and is also called to the Bar there.

Publications

“All the Red Lines: The Syrian Conflict and its assault on international humanitarian law” (chapter), in “Between Justice and Political Reality: the Syrian War”, (forthcoming) 2019.

“Vanishing Nation: Enforced Disappearance in Syria” (chapter), in “The Book of the Disappeared”, (forthcoming) 2019.

“Beyond Killing: Gender, Genocide, and Obligations under international law”, Global Justice Center, (forthcoming), October 2018.

“Act of Annihilation: The Role of Gender in Shaping the Crime of Genocide”, The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, Issue No. 24, Winter 2017.

“The Naked Defence Office: How an unclear mandate, poor staffing and Registry disinterest stripped the Office of the Principal Defender”, The Sierra Leone Special Court and Its Legacy: The Impact for Africa and International Criminal Law (Cambridge, U.K., Cambridge University Press, 2013)

“Old Tricks, Young Guns: Elections and Violence in Sierra Leone”, Africa Research Institute Briefing Note, April 2011.

“How Things Fall Apart: a history of Sierra Leone and its conflict”, (a 9 part series), The Review, February-June 2010.

“In the eye of the hurricane: the Goldstone Report”, TRIAL Magazine, November 2009.

Blogs

The Akayesu Judgment at 20: Looking Back, Pushing Forward“, 2 September 2018

Asylum and the Duty to Protect the Yazidis from Genocide“, Opinio Juris, 15 August 2018

Never again, again: The Yazidi Genocide“, IntLawGrrls, 15 August 2017.

Genocide and Cultural Heritage“, Blue Shield Expert Network, July 2017.

Podcasts

“Genocide and Justice: Part II”, That’s Illegal!, Global Justice Centre, 24 June 2017.

“Genocide and Justice: Part I”, That’s Illegal!, Global Justice Centre, 20 June 2017.

“Pursuing Accountability in Syria”, ATHA/ Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, 20 February 2017.

“The Battle for Aleppo: Achieving Accountability for Syrian War Crimes”, World Affairs Council (San Francisco) & Center for Justice & Accountability, 13 February 2017.

“Practitioner Profile: Sareta Ashraph”, ATHA/ Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, 23 August 2016.

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