World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


German Court’s Historic Crimes Against Humanity Finding In Syria Case Must Spur Momentum For International Justice

GENEVA (13 January 2022) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet hailed the “historic” conviction by a German court on Thursday of a senior Syrian intelligence official. Bachelet urged other States to take on investigation and prosecution of serious human rights violations that constitute international crimes using principles of universal and extra-territorial jurisdiction.

“This trial cast a much-needed, renewed spotlight on the kinds of sickening torture, cruel and truly inhuman treatment – including abject sexual violence – that countless Syrians were subjected to in detention facilities. It is a landmark leap forward in the pursuit of truth, justice and reparations for the serious human rights violations perpetrated in Syria over more than a decade,” Bachelet said. “Today’s verdict should serve to spur forward all efforts to widen the net of accountability for all perpetrators of the unspeakable crimes that have characterised this brutal conflict.”

The 58-year-old former official Anwar R was today convicted of crimes against humanity for the perpetration of killings, torture, serious deprivation of liberty, rape, sexual assault and hostage-taking. Anwar R was a supervisor of Eyad al-Gharib, who was convicted in February last year for aiding and abetting crimes against humanity in Syria.

“This is a clear example of how national courts can and should fill accountability gaps for such crimes wherever they were committed, through fair and independent investigations and trials carried out in line with international human rights laws and standards,” the High Commissioner said. “This serves as a powerful deterrent and helps prevent future atrocities.”

There have been a number of other criminal and civil cases against former officials and members of non-State armed groups accused of crimes in Germany and in other jurisdictions, including Austria, France, Hungary, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands, among others. A number of proceedings are currently pending in national courts. In the case of Syria, action at national levels is particularly important as Syria is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and the Security Council has repeatedly failed to refer the situation to the ICC Prosecutor.

The 1984 UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment requires States Party to ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. They are required to establish jurisdiction over torture where the alleged offender is present on its territory.

The High Commissioner paid tribute to the victims, their families and civil society organisations who persist in their demand for justice in the face of tremendous obstacles. She also lauded the role of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria, as well as the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, whose support to national jurisdictions facilitates accountability processes, delivering justice for victims and survivors.

“This conviction has put State authorities on notice – no matter where you are or how senior you may be, if you perpetrate torture or other serious human rights violations, you will be held accountable sooner or later, at home or abroad,” Bachelet said.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Tigray: Eritrean Refugees ‘scared And Struggling To Eat’ Amid Aid Obstacles
For the first time in weeks, aid teams have reached refugee camps in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, only to find that some Eritrean nationals living there have likely died of preventable diseases, while others are “scared and struggling to get enough to eat”, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, said on Friday...

UN News: Rare Coral Reef Discovered Near Tahiti Is ‘Like A Work Of Art’, Says Diver
One of the largest coral reefs in the world has been discovered by a UN-supported scientific mission off the coast of Tahiti. Announcing the stunning find on Thursday, UNESCO said that divers had explored large rose-shaped corals spanning some three kilometres, at depths of between 30 and 65 metres... More>>

Tonga Eruption: At Least 3 Dead, Amid Severe Destruction
At least three people have died in Tonga following the massive volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami wave that hit over the weekend. Homes and other buildings across the archipelago have suffered major damage... More>>

Ethiopia: UN Chief Lauds ‘Demonstrable Effort To Make Peace’

The UN Secretary-General on Wednesday said he was “delighted” to learn that “a demonstrable effort to make peace” in Ethiopia is finally underway, according to information relayed to him by the African Union High Representative for the Horn of Africa... More>>

Tigray: Agencies Suspend Aid As ‘Scores’ Are Killed Due To Airstrikes
Recent airstrikes on camps for internally displaced persons and refugees in Tigray, northern Ethiopia, have reportedly killed scores of civilians, including children, and left many more injured... More>>

UN News: For 25th Year In A Row, Greenland Ice Sheet Shrinks

2021 marked the 25th year in a row in which the key Greenland ice sheet lost more mass during the melting season, than it gained during the winter, according to a new UN-endorsed report issued on Friday... More>>