The Guardian newspaper highlighted the responsibility of European countries to prosecute war criminals in Syria, chief among them is Bashar al-Assad a few weeks after the issuance of warrants and the filing of dozens of criminal complaints in a number of European countries against Assad regime officials responsible for torture of detainees.
An opinion article by Natalie Nougayrède on Friday said that the arrests in Germany and France of three Assad regime intelligence officials suspected of torture gave a glimmer of hope to the victims and the future of justice in Syria.
Nougayrède pointed out that an immense body of evidence is already available, not least because the Assad regime has kept sinister registers of its misdeeds. She added that documents have been smuggled out of the country.
“There is a mountain of metadata to search through to establish the chain of custody. And at the very top of that mountain sits Assad. Remember, he’s only 53 years old.”
“Seeking justice for Syrians is no doubt a marathon, but if history teaches us anything, it is that massive human rights violations must not be left unpunished – however long it takes to deliver justice.”
Nougayrède pointed to the hundreds of thousands of Syrians who “reached the continent after fleeing the nightmare in their homeland.” She noted that the arrests in Germany and France mattered immensely.
“And several European countries, not least Germany, accept the notion of “universal jurisdiction”, which allows national courts to investigate and prosecute those responsible for mass crimes even if they were not committed on that country’s territory, by one of its nationals or against one of its nationals.”
She continued: “When future generations look back at an era in which an estimated half a million people were butchered and millions made homeless by one despot’s determination to cling on to power, they will ask: “What did you do?” Since 2011 Syria’s killing fields have been the vortex into which the principle of “never again”, stated so often after the second world war, has disappeared.”
On November 5, the Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Research and its partners succeeded in securing the issuance of arrest warrants for three senior Assad regime intelligence officers by the French judiciary. They are Director of the National Security Bureau Ali Mamlouk; Head of Airforce Intelligence Jamil Hassan, and Head of the Air Force Intelligence Investigative Branch at Mazzah military airport, Abdel Salam Mahmoud. They are senior aides of Assad.
The Syrian Coalition earlier stressed the need to activate the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) which was established in 2016 to assist in investigating and prosecuting crimes under international law in Syria. It also stressed the move the judicial file forward through the establishment of a special tribunal to look into war crimes and crimes against humanity taking place in Syria. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Al-Arabi Al-Jadid)