By: Sarah Tayara/ GICJ
Victims of the Syrian conflict need justice and accountability. On 29th November 2021, the Security Council members came together to discuss the pertinent issue of accountability in Syria. The meeting aimed to shed light on the prevailing impunity for the crimes against humanity and heinous war crimes committed against the Syrian population. Stressing that victims and their families deserve justice, the meeting explored the international community’s duty to step up its efforts to prevent the humanitarian tragedies in Syria and hold the perpetrators accountable.
The meeting provided an opportunity for those working on closing the accountability gap in Syria to talk about their perspective. Catherine Marchi-Uhel, Head of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM), provided an update on the work of the mechanism, while stressing the immediate and urgent need for justice. Claus Kress, Professor of Criminal Law and Public International Law, explored the legal proceedings in Koblenz, Germany, where a former Syrian official was convicted of “aiding and abetting crimes against humanity” earlier this year in the first ruling on “state-sponsored torture” committed by the Syrian government.
First-hand accounts also formed an important part of the meeting. Omar Alshogre, a Syrian who was detained for three years in Syrian prisons, described the situation of thousands of arbitrarily detained civilians who remain unjustly incarcerated. Omar focused on the need for all parties, particularly the Syrian government, to unilaterally release detainees, and promote accountability in Syria.
Moreover, the meeting explored the resolution adopted on 17th November 2021 by the General Assembly requesting the Secretary-General to conduct a study on how to locate the whereabouts of missing people in Syria, identify human remains and to provide support to their families.
Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) calls upon the international community to seriously commit to holding the Syrian government accountable for its heinous crimes against its people. We reiterate the need to reunite those arbitrarily detained with their families, ensuring the meaningful participation of victims, survivors and their families in the process of accountability. More than a decade on from the beginning of the conflict, the time to bring an end to the vicious cycle of impunity is long overdue.
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