Following criminal complaints in Germany and Austria, torture survivors submitted a criminal complaint in Stockholm on 19 February 2019 against senior officials in the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Their aim: for the Swedish judiciary to investigate the 25 named intelligence officials, as well as those not yet known by name, and issue international arrest warrants. ECCHR, whose legal research and analysis form the basis for the criminal comlplaint, worked closely together with the nine plaintiffs as well as Syrian lawyers and Civil Rights Defenders from Sweden.
Un Committee condemns Spain
In December 2014, D.D. was pushed back as an unaccompanied minor at the Spanish-Moroccan border – and this was no exception. Again and again, Spanish authorities apprehend and summarily deport unaccompanied minors to Morocco without a procedure to identify them and protect their rights. Last week, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child condemned Spain for its violent push-back practice and ordered compensations for the damages suffered by the complainant. The decision followed a complaint submitted by D.D. together with ECCHR and Fundación Raíces in 2015.
A former member of the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate was arrested on 12 February 2019 at the behest of the Federal Court of Justice. Anwar R. is suspected of being responsible for the torture of detainees in the Al-Khatib detention facility run by the General Intelligence Directorate in Damascus. This could lead to a criminal trial in Germany, which would be the first trial anywhere in the world examining the responsibility of senior members of the Syrian intelligence agencies of President Bashar al-Assad for crimes of torture. ECCHR is assisting survivors of torture in Syria in these proceedings. Their testimonies and research conducted by ECCHR contributed to the issuance of the arrest warrant.
Close to 25 million people, many of them migrants, are currently in forced labor worldwide. For the new ECCHR report "Accountability for forced labor in a globalized economy" Linde Bryk and Claudia Müller-Hoff have examined whether transnational companies can be held accountable for causing or contributing to forced labor or other labor abuses along their supply chains in the construction sector in Qatar.
German authorities continue to show little will to address crimes committed in Colonia Dignidad, the former German sect based in Chile. On 21 January 2019, the public prosecutor in Münster closed the ongoing investigations into the case of Reinhard Döring, one of the sect’s former leaders. In April 2018, ECCHR submitted a criminal complaint against Döring and named several witnesses willing to give information on Döring's role in Colonia Dignidad. The decision to close the investigation is a missed opportunity to finally shed light on the collaboration between sect leaders and the Pinochet dictatorship and on the torture and enforced disappearances of political opponents on Colonia Dignidad property.
The Regional Court in Dortmund will not investigate the facts in the case against textile retailer KiK. In January 2019, the court rejected the lawsuit, which aimed to clarify KiK's joint responsibility for the fire safety deficiencies at a supplier factory in Pakistan, referring to a statutory limitation. KiK had initially agreed to waive a possible statutory limitation, but later insisted that this waiver was void.