Syria regime under world scrutiny

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Two Syrian ex-intelligence officers accused of crimes against humanity will appear before a German court this week, in the first such trial over state-sponsored torture in Syria.

Here is a roundup of the other international investigations and actions that have been launched into alleged crimes by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

– Germany –

In March 2017 seven Syrian torture survivors, two lawyers and a human rights group filed a criminal complaint against secret service officials of Assad’s regime.

In September the same year the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) said nearly 27,000 photos taken by a former Syrian military photographer who fled the country had been turned over to German courts.

Two months later the ECCHR announced two new appeals for crimes against humanity and war crimes had been filed by 13 Syrians for acts of torture by 17 senior officials, including the defence minister and the military prosecutor for their alleged involvement in abuses at the infamous Saydnaya prison near Damascus.

In June 2018 German prosecutors reportedly issued an international arrest warrant for top Syrian intelligence officer Jamil Hassan, accused of overseeing the torture and murder of hundreds of detainees.

In February 2019, former Syrian intelligence officers Anwar Raslan and Eyad Al-Gharib were arrested in Germany as part of a French-German investigation.

The trial of these two men opens Thursday in the western German city of Koblenz, and is expected to run at least until August.

– France –

A French court opened in 2016 an investigation into the disappearance of Mazen Dabbagh and his son Patrick, two French-Syrian nationals who had been arrested in Syria three years earlier.

In connection with the probe, France issued in 2018 its first international arrest warrants for three senior Syrian intelligence officials for “complicity in acts of torture”, “complicity in crimes against humanity” and “complicity in war crimes”.

The warrants were for National Security Bureau director Ali Mamluk, Jamil Hassan, and Abdel Salam Mahmoud, in charge of the Air Force Intelligence investigative branch at the Mezzeh military airport in Damascus.

In February 2019 Abdulhamid C., a former Syrian soldier suspected of complicity in crimes against humanity, was arrested in France on the same day as Raslan and Gharib in Germany.

A year later Abdulhamid C. was released under judicial supervision for lack of evidence.

– Spain –

In July 2017, a Spanish court rejected a complaint filed by a Spanish woman of Syrian origin against nine Syrian regime officials for the forced detention, torture and alleged execution of her brother in 2013.

– UN’s international mechanism –

In 2016 the United Nations set up its International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, which is also preparing war crimes charges against individuals over the Syrian conflict.

Since April 2018, the UN body has been gathering evidence for use in possible future trials of those alleged responsible for crimes against humanity.

It contains more than a million items, including documents, photographs, videos, satellite images, statements from victims and witnesses, and unclassified documents.

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