Publication - International Crimes

Terrorism and international crimes: prosecuting atrocities for what they are

Universal Jurisdiction Annual Review 2020

This year, the Universal Jurisdiction Annual Review (#UJAR) focuses, as it’s title says, on the risks of confusing the prosecution of international crimes with the fight against terrorism. With their 6th UJAR, ECCHR and its partners TRIAL International and the International Federation for Human Rights (fidh) lay out that implications of choosing pragmatism to the detriment of legal principles are substantial, and the consequences potentially grave. The report highlights cases of 2019 where judges or prosecutors initiated investigations into the most serious international crimes as for example the first trial worldwide on state torture in Syria about start in Germany in spring 2020.

Yemen - arms exports - Europe

5 years of war in Yemen and Europe’s responsibility

European arms exports to Saudi Arabia

On 26 March 2015, the armed conflict in Yemen escalated when a Saudi and UAE-led military coalition started a bombing campaign in support of Yemeni President Hadi. Europe plays a part in this – some countries, including France, the UK and Germany, as well as European corporations profit from the war by exporting weapons and weapons components to countries conducting the attacks in Yemen.

Nach dem Luftangriff auf Deir Al-Ḩajārī, Jemen, Oktober 2016 © Photo: Mwatana

Syria - Torture - Germany

State torture in Syria: First trial worldwide to open in Germany

More arrest warrants and prosecutions must follow

The first trial worldwide on state torture in Syria will start in Germany, on 23 April 2020. The main defendant is Anwar R, a former official at the General Intelligence Directorate in Syrian President Assad’s government. ECCHR supports 16 Syrian torture survivors in the proceedings.

Afghanistan - Kunduz - Germany

Kunduz airstrike

Germany on trial: ECtHR heard on 26 February

In September 2009, two US fighter jets, acting on the orders of German Army Colonel Georg Klein, bombed a large group of people on a sandbar in the Kunduz River (Afghanistan). More than 100 people – mainly civilians – were killed or injured. On 26 February 2020 – ten years later – the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg heard the case before its Grand Chamber.

Spain - Push-Backs - Melilla

Strasbourg shamelessly gives green light to push-backs at Europe’s borders

The ECtHR’s Grand Chamber dismisses case against Spain’s “hot returns”

No rights at the border, too many hurdles in court. ND and NT were handcuffed and immediately expelled through Melilla’s fence structure from Spain to Morocco. They were given no due process, nor the opportunity to challenge their expulsion. The same happened to at least 70 other individuals on 13 August 2014. These summary, violent and unlawful push-backs are documented in several videos, photos and testimonies. Yet, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg dismissed ND and NT v. Spain. Instead of condemning Spain for failing its human rights obligations, the court is ignoring evidence from all human rights institutions.

Italy – Sea rescue – Criminalization

Sea rescue under attack: UN intervention against Italy demanded

For years, Italian authorities have threatened and attacked sea rescues that provide humanitarian aid to refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean. This is why ECCHR submitted complaints to the responsible UN Special Rapporteur in November 2019 and January 2020. The goal: for him to intervene on behalf of the German NGO ship Sea-Watch 3’s crew and German ship Iuventa.

The Sea-Watch 3, with a rescue boat in the foreground © Boris Niehaus, Sea-Watch e.V.


Human rights before profit

Case studies on corporate human rights due diligence

The study “Menschenrechte vor Profit: So wird’s gemacht” (only in German) describes how companies should implement human rights due diligence in their production and supply chains. On the basis of three concrete cases – KiK, Nestlé and Lahmeyer – authors Claudia Müller-Hoff and Miriam Saage-Maaß show avenues to reach this goal.

Foto BHR-Broschüre