Term

War crimes

War crimes are serious violations of international humanitarian law provisions applicable in international and non-international armed conflict. War crimes are part of the core crimes of international criminal law and are subject to universal jurisdiction. War crimes include e.g. intentional attacks on the civilian population or civilian objects such as hospitals and the use of chemical weapons.

Democratic Republic Congo

Groundbreaking trial in Germany

Armed conflict

The Higher Regional Court in Stuttgart handed down convictions in the trial of two Rwandan leaders of the Hutu militia group FDLR, Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni. The FDLR are alleged to have utilized sexualized violence against the Congolese civilian population and to have in numerous cases plundered, killed and inflicted grievous bodily injuries.

Gaza

Israeli airstrikes in Gaza: Justice in the Kilani case

War crimes

In the course of a military action in Gaza in 2014, Israel’s armed forces killed, among others, members of the German-Palestinian Kilani family. Israeli legal authorities have refused to investigate. ECCHR, on behalf of Ramsis Kilani from Germany, demands that Germany investigate the case.

Institute

Crimes during liberation wars: The Lumumba murder

Research & Academia

The criminal investigation into Lumumba’s assassination is part of a broader context of structural impunity for the crimes committed by European colonial powers during decolonization. While the long-term effects of colonization persist, direct accountability is rarely possible.

Yemen

European responsibility for war crimes in Yemen

War crimes

In October 2016, an airstrike – alleged to have been carried out by the Saudi-led military coalition – struck a civilian home in the village of Deir Al-Hajari in northwest Yemen. The intentional directing of attacks against the civilian population amounts to war crimes. ECCHR is taking legal action against this.

Yemen

Made in Europe, bombed in Yemen

Arms exports

Despite countless attacks on civilian homes, markets, hospitals and schools – conducted by the Saudi/UAE-led military coalition – transnational companies based in Europe continued and continue to supply Saudi Arabia and the UAE with weapons, ammunition and logistical support. European government officials authorized the exports by granting licenses.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan civil war: Government officials still unpunished

Armed conflict

Since the final stage of the Sri Lankan civil war, ECCHR has been working to ensure that high-ranking military personnel and (former) members of the Sri Lankan government and security forces are prosecuted for their role in war crimes, crimes against humanity and sexual violence.

Sri Lanka

Sexual Violence in Sri Lanka

Armed conflict

Sri Lanka must comply with its international obligations in the fight against gender-based discrimination. The country should bring its law in line with the UN Convention on Women.

Syria

German authorities issue arrest warrant against Jamil Hassan, head of the Syrian Air Force Intelligence

Torture

“As the head of Syrian Air Force Intelligence, Jamil Hassan was responsible for the torture me and my friends suffered. The international arrest warrant shows, that our criminal complaint is the right path to achieve justice”, says Yazan Awad, a Syrian torture survivors who cooperates with ECCHR.

Syria

Torture under the Assad regime

Torture

The Syrian government led by president Bashar al-Assad is responsible for systematic and widespread torture. ECCHR together with seven Syrian torture survivors as well as the Syrian lawyers al-Bunni and Darwish submitted the first criminal complaint against six high-level officials of the Syrian military intelligence service to the German Federal Prosecutor.

Syria

“Caesar” photos document systematic torture

Torture

The group around the former Syrian military police employee “Caesar” took for the first legal action by filing together with ECCHR a criminal complaint against senior officials from the Syrian intelligence services and the military police concerning crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Syria

Lafarge in Syria – Accusations of complicity in grave human rights violations

Armed conflict

Eleven former Syrian employees of French company Lafarge submitted a criminal complaint against Lafarge. By having business relations with the terrorist group ISIS in Syria, the company may have taken part in the financing of the group, being therefore complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Syria

The path to justice leads through Europe – e.g. Austria

Torture

They survived torture and detention in Syria and fled to Europe, where they now hope to obtain justice. Austrian authorities should follow the example set in Germany, Sweden and France and initiate investigations into systematic torture under Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

Syria

Surveillance in Syria: European firms may be aiding and abetting crimes against humanity

Surveillance technology

The Syrian intelligence services have been collecting without cause information about political opponents, members of the opposition and human rights activists. Spying often goes hand in hand with torture. Software from Western corporations may have played a role in the surveillance. In order to address this, transnational investigations have to be initiated.

Syria

Sweden: Criminal complaint against Assad’s intelligence officials

Torture

(Also) Sweden can play an important role in the fight against impunity for turture in Syria. This is why, in February 2019, nine torture survivors submitted a criminal complaint in Stockholm against senior officials in the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – including for crimes against humanity.

Syria

First criminal trial worldwide on torture in Syria before a German court

Torture

The first trial worldwide on state torture in Syria started in Germany, in April 2020. The main defendant is Anwar R, a former official at the General Intelligence Directorate in Syrian President Assad’s government. ECCHR supports 17 Syrian torture survivors in the proceedings.

Syria

Norway: Syrian torture survivors file criminal complaint against Assad's senior intelligence officers

Torture

In order to end impunity for state torture in Syria, five Syrian torture survivors filed a criminal complaint in November 2019 in Norway. The complaint is the next step in a series of criminal complaints against 17 high-ranking officials of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government that have been submitted in Germany, Austria and Sweden.

Syria

Trial updates: First trial worldwide on torture in Syria

Torture

On 23 April 2020, the first criminal trial worldwide on state torture in Syria started in Germany. The main defendant in front of the Higher Regional Court in Koblenz is Anwar R, a former General Intelligence Directorate official in Bashar al-Assad’s government. ECCHR supports 17 Syrian women and men in the al-Khatib proceedings, seven of whom are joint plaintiffs. Here you will find regular updates on the proceedings.

USA

France: Court must continue to pursue Guantánamo torture cases

Guantánamo

After learning that Mourad Benchellali and Nizar Sassi were being detained by the US at Guantánamo detention center, their families filed a criminal complaint before French courts asking authorities to investigate torture, ill-treatment and arbitrary detention. That was in November 2002. Since then, the French judiciary has been conducting investigations into the US torture program and the high-ranking officials responsible for it.

USA

Torture in Guantánamo: Spain closes investigations into “Bush Six”

Guantánamo

In March 2009, ECCHR partner lawyer Gonzalo Boye filed a criminal complaint against six former US officials of the Bush administration regarding their accountability for violations of international law, including war crimes and torture. The US officials became known as the “Bush Six.”

USA

The Rumsfeld torture cases

Torture

Between 2004 and 2007, three complaints were filed in Germany and in France against members of the US Government, including former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and members of the military forces in connection with war crimes, torture and other criminal acts in the military prisons of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib.

USA

Germany: Criminal Complaint against CIA Director Gina Haspel

Torture

ECCHR has filed a criminal complaint with the German Federal Public Prosecutor calling for investigations into Gina Haspel’s role in the torture of detainees at a CIA secret prison in Thailand in 2002. Haspel was appointed director of the CIA by President Donald Trump in May 2018.

United Kingdom

War crimes by UK forces in Iraq

Iraq

ECCHR demands investigations into the role and responsibility of British military officials in Iraq. A communication to the ICC documents 2000 cases of grave mistreatment during the five years in which UK forces operated in Iraq.