Mass atrocities in Syria: How to do Justice?

Torture, executions and "disappearences" of civilians, deliberate attacks on civilian infrastructure and indiscriminate bombings, genocides and sexualized violence against Yazidi women are only some of the crimes committed by almost all conflict parties in Syria since 2011. Syrian activists have been documenting these crimes in order to one day bring those responsible to justice.
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 and who in March 2017 submitted the first criminal complaint against six high-level officials of the Syrian Military Intelligence Service to the Office of the Federal Prosecutor.
In the working area of Business and Human Rights ECCHR is tackling the role of transnational corporations in Syria. In a criminal complaint against French cement supplier Lafarge (now LafargeHolcim) the allegations are: Through their dealings with Islamic State (IS), Lafarge subsidiary Lafarge Cement Syria was aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity by financing the group.

Legal means to fight impunity in Syria

In the case of Syria investigation by the International Criminal Court is blocked

There is little prospect of accountability on an international level. The International Criminal Court is not an option as Syria is not a signatory to its statute and Russia is blocking a referral by the UN Security Council. After all, the UN Human Rights Council established the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria: The investigators have been gathering evidence against all parties to the conflict for more than five years. The information gathered by the UN-Commission are essential for the future legal proceedings.

The path to justice for mass atrocities in Syria leads through Germany

With the principle of Universal Jurisdiction, however, there is a tool for third states to prosecute perpetrators domestically. Prosecutors in Germany and other EU countries are currently monitoring, investigating and prosecuting human rights related crimes in Syria.
ECCHR uses the principle of Universal Jurisdiction to oppose the violence in Syria with the law, which is the basis for the criminal complaint against officials of the Syrian Intelligence Service filed in Germany.

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

PR_Syria_Torture_Complaint_ECCHR.pdf (192.6 KiB)

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

Update_SpecialNewsletter_Syria2017June.pdf (823.3 KiB)


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