Thousands of photos of corpses in Syrian government detention facilities, in high definition, many containing metadata – they are key evidence for the ongoing investigations into human rights abuses under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
On 21 September 2017, the group around the former Syrian military police employee "Caesar" took for the first legal action by filing together with ECCHR a criminal complaint with the German Federal Prosecutor in Karlsruhe against senior officials from the Syrian intelligence services and the military police concerning crimes against humanity and war crimes. A representative of the "Caesar Files Group" also provided the Federal Prosecutor with a set of high-resolution images and metadata. The metadata can be used to verify the photographs and provide further information about them. This adds to the evidentiary value of the images and paves the way for further investigatory steps. As one of the few countries where the principle of universal jurisdiction applies, Germany is playing a key role in the fight against impunity in Syria.
The photos filed were taken in Syria between May 2011 and August 2013. They were subsequently obtained by the Caesar Files Group and smuggled out of the country. The images show the bodies of people who were tortured and died in Syrian government detention facilities. The metadata and the accompanying criminal complaint from ECCHR and the Caesar Files Group provide information on the locations and institutions involved as well as the torture methods used and the causes of death. The complaint is directed against the heads of the Syria's National Security Bureau, the Military Intelligence Service, the Air Force Intelligence Service, the General Intelligence Directorate and the Military Police.
Q&A: Legal background of the criminal complaints on the Syrian torture cases filed in Germany.