Justice Update – Syria Missing and Tortured

Ibrahim, Janet, Toby, Stephanie (clockwise from top left)

Ever since a referral of the atrocities in Syria to the International Criminal Court was blocked at the United Nations Security Council, lawyers and activists, victims and survivors, have been looking for potential routes to accountability. Now two have emerged at the same time. Both though have been a very long time in the making.

At the UN General Assembly, there was support for the creation of a new body: the Independent Institution on Missing Persons in the Syrian Arab Republic. Pressure has come from the families of the over 100 thousand people believed to have gone missing in Syria since the 2011 uprising against President Bashar Assad; they have been lobbying for some way to both get information and hold the authorities to account. We spoke to Yasmin Mashen of the Ceasar Families Association, to hear why this new UN body is needed.   

Meanwhile, Canada and the Netherlands have brought a case against Syria at the International Court of Justice under the Convention against Torture. Provisional measures hearings will begin in October. Toby Cadman and Ibrahim Olabi of Guernica 37 Chambers – lawyers who have been assisting the Dutch authorities – explain the substance of the case, including torture in its widest possible sense, sexual violence, enforced disappearances and the effects of chemical weapons. The ICJ is all about state responsibility, but we’ve previously covered some of the universal jurisdiction cases in different parts of Europe against Syrian individuals, here and here.

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.