A group of Syrian refugees on Thursday asked the International Criminal Court to open a case against the Syrian regime for crimes against humanity committed during the ongoing war.
The case against President Bashar al-Assad has been filed by British lawyers representing 28 refugees who have fled Syria to neighbouring Jordan.
Though Syria is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC), Jordan is.
However, the lawyers are relying on the recent precedent before the ICC of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar who have fled to Bangladesh and argue that the same legal principle applies.
“The ICC exists precisely to bring justice to the victims of these most brutal international crimes,” Rodney Dixon of London law firm Stoke White said after sending the communication to the court in The Hague.
“The devastating war in Syria has been going on for almost nine years now and no one has yet been held accountable for the hundreds of thousands of violations against civilians.
“This case represents a genuine breakthrough for the Syrian victims.
“There is a jurisdictional gateway that has opened up finally for the ICC prosecutor to investigate the perpetrators who are most responsible.”
Lawyers said the case would focus on the wider pattern of attacks and alleged crimes against the civilian population in Syria including torture, rape, chemical attacks and disappearances.
Anonymised victim accounts have been provided to the ICC prosecutor.
The ICC confirmed they had received the dossier but gave no further details.
European Union countries on Monday added Syria’s interior minister Mohammad Khaled al-Rahmoun and six other new ministers to a sanctions blacklist for their role in Assad’s “violent repression” of civilians.
The European Council said the ministers who were appointed to Assad’s government in November have been barred from travelling to Europe and will see their assets frozen.