British lawyers representing Syrian refugees in Jordan have made a request to the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor to open an investigation into the Assad regime after submitting evidence of regime forces carrying out crimes against humanity.
The case is being brought on behalf of 28 Syrians currently in refugee camps in Jordan; they testify to being shot at, detained, tortured and exiled, as well as having witnessed massacres committed by Syrian troops.
London-based solicitors Stoke White, who is aiding the refugees in the filing, said the 28 Syrians submitting the case on Thursday were only a small sample of the 1,183 others they are representing, whose statements will in time also be gathered to bring their experiences to light.
The group of lawyers, led by Rodney Dixon QC of Temple Garden Chambers in London, said that the evidence indicts several senior figures in the Assad government, including the president himself as well as his brother Maher Al-Assad.
“Today’s action is indeed a long awaited breakthrough for the countless victims of the most brutal crimes we’ve seen in the ongoing Syrian conflict,” Dixon said at a press conference.
Although Syria is not a signatory to The Hague-based court, lawyers in London are relying on a precedent set by the ICC in extending jurisdiction to the crime of forcible population transfers, as seen recently in a petition made by Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh.
“We are asserting that based on the evidence of our clients and others, there is now a very clear jurisdictional gateway for the prosecutor to investigate this case and prosecute those who are most responsible,” Dixon told reporters.
Earlier this week, the rights group Guernica Center for International Justice submitted a memorandum to the International Criminal Court calling for the Assad regime to be held accountable for the forcible displacement of more than one million people to Jordan. It noted that the ICC had the mandate to launch an investigation in Amman as Jordan is a ‘State Party’ to the Rome Statute.
The Center’s co-founder Toby Cadman said that there is a fair chance that the ICC will accept the Center’s legal submission which is directed against the leadership of the regime, its armed forces, the state security, and branches of military intelligence. He demanded that Bashar al-Assad be held fully responsible for his actions. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)