Public Hearings Begin in the Case Submitted by the Netherlands and Canada against the Syrian Arab Republic

PARIS, France (October 11, 2023) – Yesterday, the first public hearing was held for the joint application brought by Canada and the Kingdom of the Netherlands against the Syrian Arab Republic regarding alleged violations of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. After Canada and the Netherlands referred the case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), they also called for the imposition of temporary measures, in accordance with the authority of any state party to the Court’s Statute to request the initiation of these procedures, which the Court must consider urgently. Although the hearings were postponed from July to October 2023 at the request of the Syrian government, the Syrian government informed the court of its non-attendance and absence, which led to the cancellation of the remaining hearings, which were scheduled for noon on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In the hearing on the request for the indication of provisional measures, the measures were a conclusion of multiple consultative meetings that were held with Syrian organizations and the two governments. The Netherlands and Canada requested an additional set of measures that had been proposed by Syrian civil society organizations and victims’ associations in a joint letter addressed to the Dutch and Canadian governments and signed by 85 organizations:

  • Request the Syrian government to immediately suspend all personnel suspected of having committed torture or other ill-treatment.
  • Request the Syrian government to lift de facto immunity granted for those of its officials who commit torture and to direct its officials not to use any statement obtained under torture as evidence in any proceedings, including and in particular for crimes for which the death penalty can be imposed.

The Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) welcomes the proceedings of the case as part of international efforts to address the state of impunity in Syria and in response to the demands of victims’ families, associations, and Syrian civil society organizations seeking justice and accountability.