On Tuesday, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) announced that five Syrian torture survivors have filed legal complaints against senior officials of the Assad regime. All five live in Norway.
ECCHR, which is based in Berlin, said in a statement:
Trials and investigations in Europe can pave the way to end impunity for grave crimes committed by the government of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.
In Germany, the first trial worldwide on state torture in Syria is expected to start in 2020, following the indictment of two former officials of the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate on 22 October 2019. Similar investigations and legal proceedings are ongoing in France, Sweden and Austria.
The complaint documented human rights abuses and crimes that 17 senior officials of the regime committed against the Syrian nationals. The Military Intelligence, the General Intelligence and the Political and Criminal Security divisions of the Syrian government have committed these crimes.
The Syrian institutions in question have a long history of false imprisonment, systematic torture, and deliberate killings of innocent Syrians.
ECCHR Lawyers, who filed the complaint, asked the Norwegian prosecutors to investigate the 17 intelligence officials. If found guilty, the complaint asks Norway to issue international warrants for their arrest.
SYSTEMATIC INHUMAN TORTURE
One of the plaintiffs said he wanted to see those responsible for Assad’s torture system to stand trial. The Military Intelligence detained and subjected him to various torture techniques. The Assad regime is holding up to 200,000 Syrians in its prison systems. Many of whom Assad’s government subject them daily to inhuman, medieval torture.
In a statement, the plaintiff said:
I joined this criminal complaint in Norway because in my own country, there is no prospect of achieving accountability. Investigations in Europe will send an important signal to Syria: no one, not even high-ranking officials, are above the law.
Several institutions back the legal initiative. They include the ECCHR, the Syrian Center for Legal Research and Studies (SCLRS), the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), the Caesar Files Group (CFSG), and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC).