Torture in Syria: The German Public Prosecutor General must issue arrest warrants
On Wednesday November 8 Anwar al-Bunni (SCLSR), Mazen Darwish (SCM), and Wolfgang Kaleck (ECCHR) together with Antonie Nord (Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung), and René Wildangel (Amnesty International) held a press conference at Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung in Berlin where they reflected on Germany’s role in the fight against impunity in Syria.
European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) has compiled two new criminal complaints addressing crimes against humanity and war crimes in Syria, together with the Syrian lawyers and activists Anwar Al-Bunni (Syrian Center for Legal Research & Studies, SCLSR) and Mazen Darwish (Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, SCM) and with the support of the Heinrich Böll Stiftung.
The two new complaints by 15 Syrian claimants highlight the Syrian government’s systematic policies of repression, torture, and extermination. This system is embodied by senior functionaries in the National Security Bureau, the Defence Ministry, the Military Police and Air Force Intelligence, among others. The criminal complaints name 16 suspects and are calling on the German Public Prosecutor General to issue arrest warrants.
The new complaints were presented at the press conference by Anwar Al-Bunni (SCLSR), Mazen Darwish (SCM), and Wolfgang Kaleck (ECCHR). Together with Antonie Nord (Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung), and René Wildangel (Amnesty International), they reflected on Germany’s role in the fight against impunity in Syria.
On 8 November 2017, SCLSR, SCM, and ECCHR in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation and Amnesty International Germany, brought together stakeholders from Syria as well as from the national and international level including Catherine Marchi-Uhel, Head of the UN International Impartial Independent Mechanism Investigating Serious Crimes in Syria.
Together, we reflected on the ongoing and possible future efforts for accountability in Syria. Syrian torture survivors and activists, who are at the heart of the criminal complaints in Germany against high-ranking officials of the Assad government led the first session. The second discussion shed light on gaps in documentation and challenges of preserving evidence in the context of judicial action addressing international crimes committed in Syria.
Barbara Unmüßig, Heinrich-Böll Foundation and Wolfgang Kaleck, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) opened the event.
The first session, moderated by Dr. Bente Scheller Heinrich-Böll Foundation Beirut, focused on further steps towards accountability: survivors and civil society in collaboration with the participation of:
- Yazan Awad, Syrian torture survivor and claimant / Air Force Intelligence
- Shappal Ibrahim, Syrian torture survivor and claimant / Saydnaya detention
- Anwar al-Bunni, Syrian Center for Legal Research and Studies
- Tarek Hokan, Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression
In the second session, Forensic Architecture showed the film Saydnaya – Inside a Syrian Torture Prison, introduced by Markus Beeko Amnesty International Germany.
Dr. Patrick Kroker ECCHR introduced for the third session the keynote speaker Catherine Marchi-Uhel Head of the IIIM.
The fourth and final session, moderated by Dr Patrick Kroker ECCHR, focused on paving the way for judicial action: Gaps in documentation and the challenges of preserving evidence
- Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International
- Chris Engels, Commission for International Justice and Accountability
- Mazen Darwish, Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression
- Marie Forestier, independent journalist and researcher
- Matevž Pezdirc, EU Genocide Network representative