Paris, December 23, 2020 – Press Release
This morning, Wednesday, December 23, 2020, the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) delivered a set of forensic evidence and clues about the involvement of ‘Jaysh al-Islam’ and a number of its leaders in several crimes that amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity to the International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) team. The latter deals with the investigation and prosecution of persons responsible for the most serious crimes under International Law committed in Syria since March 2011.
The forensic evidence and clues include 225 supporting files, which range from documents and testimonies of dozens of victims and private videos, pictures, and information obtained from members of the faction, to a map of prisons and public and secret detention centers that were administered by the faction. All of these confirm that ‘Jaysh al-Islam’ committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria from mid-2012 to the fourth month of 2018.
Furthermore, the shared evidence clearly indicates the involvement of leaders in ‘Jaysh al-Islam’ in planning, issuing orders, and carrying out these violations, as the chain of command of this faction was dismantled with the help of many collaborators from within the faction and the efforts of a number of defectors from it. 147 leaders responsible for grave human rights violations that amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity have been clearly identified. These crimes include the targeting of civilian gatherings, enforced disappearances and kidnappings, arbitrary arrest, torture, extra-legal killings, complicity in besieging civilians and using them as human shields, monopoly over food commodities, and child recruitment.
This procedure comes in the context of joint cooperation with the IIIM to share evidence and build cases to strengthen prosecution against persons involved in war crimes in Syria and in implementation of the three special cooperation agreements signed between SCM and the Mechanism, through which the center contributes to sharing information and evidence about many of the crimes and violations committed by the parties involved in the conflict in Syria, especially the Syrian government forces and several militias affiliated with them. SCM has also submitted 12 judicial complaints in 6 European countries and has responded to international investigation mechanisms as well as more than 40 requests to provide evidence from war crime units in 7 countries.
The Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) calls on the countries with interest and influence, in particular the Turkish government and European countries, to provide everything necessary in order to fully protect witnesses and prevent their intimidation, to facilitate the investigation process as well as that of obtaining evidence, and not to be complacent with suspects present on their territory and hand them over to the judicial agencies which investigate the violations occurring in Syria in accordance with international conventions. The center also calls on them to provide more space in their judicial systems to prosecute those involved in war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria.
The Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) will spare no effort to provide the necessary evidence for investigation mechanisms and courts and to work within the available means to build cases and complaints against all perpetrators of crimes in Syria, in cooperation with victims, international organizations, and Syrian human rights organizations that form the cornerstone of any upcoming steps in order to build a path towards transitional justice in Syria that guarantees accountability for all perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity and the rights of all victims.