Episode 100 – Building a Universal Jurisdiction Movement with Mazen Darwish

Janet (on computer) and Stephanie with Mazen Darwish ( Photo by Danya Chaikel)

Mazen Darwish is a bit of a hero to many. He’s not only a former political prisoner, an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, a lawyer, a human rights activist, but also a journalist. So when FIDH – of which he is one of the secretaries-general – said he’d be happy to chat to us, we were happy to engage.

Of course, much of our discussion is focused on Syria. We wanted to understand how Mazen sees the ‘progress’ in states taking on Universal Jurisdiction cases against all kinds of alleged perpetrators in Syria. He sees a big change in how War Crimes Units and investigators are working with Syrian civil society in comparison with 10 years ago. Especially interesting for us are the cases in Switzerland against one member of the ruling Assad family, and another, just about to kick off, in France against the president, Bashir al Assad and his brother.

Some of the things we mentioned in the conversation are the annual Universal Jurisdiction review which you can also peruse here. Our previous coverage of that yearly insight is here. And we cover Universal Jurisdiction a lot! We also mention chemical weapons, especially the attacks in Ghouta. For more information check out this great podcast series: Nowhere to Hide. We wish we’d made it ourselves. Of course, our interview with the outgoing head of the Syria investigative mechanism gets a shout-out, along with the new UN body registering the disappeared in Syria, which we covered here.

Mazen picks My Maysoon a film by Batoul Karbijha about her disappeared sister, one of the thousands who tried to get from Syria to Europe, whose boat capsized in the Mediterranean and whose body has never been found.

This podcast has been produced as part of a partnership with JusticeInfo.net, an independent website in French and English covering justice initiatives in countries dealing with serious violence. It is a media outlet of Fondation Hirondelle, based in Lausanne, Switzerland.