”Caesar” Photos Document Systematic Torture

Syrian Military Police defector “Caesar” Passes Key Evidence to German Federal Prosecutor

For documents in Arabic scroll down / المستندات التي باللغة العربية مرفقة بالاسفل تصريح صحفي

Thousands of photos of corpses in Syrian government detention facilities, in high definition, many containing metadata – key evidence for the ongoing investigations into human rights abuses under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“Caesar-File Support Group” files criminal complaint in Germany against senior officials from the Syrian intelligence services and the military police

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-File Support 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.

German authorities can use “Caesar“ photos to issue international arrest warrants against Syrian senior officials

“The photos show the extent and the systematic nature of torture under Assad. The metadata is especially useful. Until now no international investigators or third-country national prosecutors or courts have seen this information,” explains ECCHR General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck. “The German Federal Prosecutor is the first authority which can use this data to bring about international arrest warrants against those most culpable within the Syrian regime.”
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 and Metadata of the “Caesar-Files Support Group”

The photos filed were taken in Syria between May 2011 and August 2013. They were subsequently obtained by the “Caesar-File Support 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-File Support 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.


المنشق عن الشرطة العسكرية السورية المدعو بقيصر يقدم دليلا جوهريا للمدعي العام الفيدرالي الالماني

PR_Arabic_Syria_Torture_CaesarFiles_Germany_20170922.pdf (195.1 KiB)

خلفية عن الموضوع صور و بيانات من ملف مجموعة دعم قيصر

Background_Arabic_Syria_Torture_CaesarFiles_Germany_ECCHR_20170922.pdf (543.7 KiB)

Background: The "Caesar" photos and data - Evidence of systematic torture in detention facilities of the Syrian government

Background_Syria_Torture_CaesarFiles_GermanyCriminalComplaint_ECCHR_20170922.pdf (416.4 KiB)

Germany paves the way for accountability for torture in Syria

In Syria, there is complete impunity for human rights violations committed by the intelligence services and the military police. There is currently no way to bring the cases before the International Criminal Court. It therefore falls to national jurisdictions in third-party states such as Germany to investigate and prosecute these crimes.
German authorities are already investigating and have heard evidence from torture survivors who, together with ECCHR, filed a criminal complaint with the Federal Prosecutor in March 2017 against senior officials in the Syrian Military Intelligence Service.

Q&A: Legal Background of the Criminal Complaints on Syria Torture Cases filed in Germany

Syria_Torture_Complaints_ECCHR_QA_2017Oct.pdf (309.9 KiB)

Special Newsletter: Human Rights Violation in Syria. Part I: Torture under Assad

SpecialNewsletter_Syria_2017October.pdf (700.9 KiB)

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