Torture under the Assad Regime

Torture survivors submit criminal complaint against high-level officials of the Syrian Intelligence Service to Federal Prosecutor

The Syrian government led by president Bashar al-Assad is responsible for systematic and widespread torture targeting opponents and activists not only as a reaction to the protests in 2011 but already for several decades. There are currently only a few avenues left to prosecute international crimes committed in Syria.
One of them is the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows the German judiciary to become active and initiate first steps towards the road to justice without citizenship of the victims or perpetrators being a prerequisite. On 1 March 2017 ECCHR together with seven Syrian torture survivors as well as the two Syrian lawyers Anwar al-Bunni (Syrian Center for Legal Researches & Studies) and Mazen Darwish (Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Speech) submitted the first criminal complaint against six high-level officials of the Syrian Military Intelligence Service to the Office of the Federal Prosecutor. 
ECCHR has been investigating crimes committed by all parties of the conflict since 2012 and is now working with an international network, including torture survivors who have been granted international protection in Germany.

Torture in Syria: Survivors and activists report

بيان صحفي: الناجون من منظومة التعذيب يتقدمون بشكوى جنائية إلى المدعي العام في ألمانيا ضد مسؤولين رفيعي المستوى من الإستخبارات السورية

Arabic_PR_Syria_Torture_Complaint_ECCHR_20170302.pdf (366.1 KiB)

ECCHR cases are exemplary for the system of torture under the Assad regime

The criminal complaint targets six officials known by name and further unknown officials of the Syrian Military Intelligence Service. The claimants were tortured or witnessed torture in the prisons of the intelligence services. The aim of this criminal complaint – the individual cases of which are exemplary for the system of torture under the Assad regime – is the issue of international arrest warrants and the begin of investigations by prosecutor's office with respect to the persons identified as responsible for the committed crimes.

Portraits: Who are the complainants in the Syria torture case in Germany?

Syria_Torture_Complaint_ECCHR_Portraits_claimants.pdf (308.7 KiB)

Excutive Summary: Criminal complaint to the German Federal Public Prosecutor Torture in Syria

Syria_Torture_Complaint_ECCHR_ExecutiveSummary.pdf (330.8 KiB)

Torture under Assad: The long path to justice leads trough Germany

"We cannot look at the horror of Syria. We have to start describing what is happening in Syria with words and legal categories," said ECCHR General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck. "Germany can and must react to grave human rights violations such as torture, massacres and sexualized violence in Syria."
Mazen Darwish, lawyer and Journalist from Syria emphasized: "In Syria there is total impunity, which produces further violence. Without justice there will be no political solution to the conflict."His colleague Anwar al-Bunni added: "Massive human rights violations must not remain unanswered; this is clear since the Nuremberg trials. Torture is absolutely forbidden. Germany has to set a signal."

Q&A: Legal Background of the Criminal Complaint on Syria Torture Cases filed in Germany (English and Arabic)

Syria_Torture_Complaint_ECCHR_QA.pdf (448.4 KiB)

سؤال وجواب: الخلفية القانونية للشكوى الجنائية فيما يتعلق بقضايا التعذيب في سوريا والتي رفعت في ألمانيا.

Arab_Syria_Torture_Q&A.pdf (538.1 KiB)

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

Special Newsletter Syria.pdf (540.7 KiB)


  • Assad
  • Germany
  • mass atrocities
  • Syria
  • torture
  • Universal Jurisdiction