To counter injustice with legal interventions – this is the aim and daily work of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights.
ECCHR is an independent, non-profit legal and educational organization dedicated to enforcing civil and human rights worldwide. It was founded in 2007 by Wolfgang Kaleck and other international human rights lawyers to protect and enforce the rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as other human rights declarations and national constitutions, through legal means.
Together with those affected and partners worldwide, ECCHR uses legal means to end impunity for those responsible for torture, war crimes, sexual and gender-based violence, corporate exploitation and fortressed borders.
Another milestone in the fight against impunity
Berlin, 13 February 2019 – A former member of the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate was arrested yesterday at the behest of the Federal Court of Justice. Anwar R. is suspected of being responsible for the torture of detainees in 2011-2012 in the Al-Khatib detention facility run by the General Intelligence Directorate in Damascus. This could lead to a criminal trial in Germany, which would be the first trial anywhere in the world examining the responsibility of senior members of the Syrian intelligence agencies of President Bashar al-Assad for crimes of torture.
The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) is assisting survivors of torture in Syria in these proceedings. Six survivors were heard as witnesses by the Federal Criminal Police Office over the course of the investigations undertaken by the Federal Public Prosecutor. Their testimonies and research conducted by ECCHR contributed to the issuance of the arrest warrant against Anwar R.
“Should the suspect go on trial, the survivors of torture will join the case as private parties,” said ECCHR’s General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck. “The arrest shows once again that Germany is taking the fight against impunity for torture in Syria seriously. It sends a very important message to survivors of Assad’s system of torture. Without justice, there will be no lasting peace in Syria.”
In June 2018, the German Federal Court of Justice issued an arrest warrant for Jamil Hassan, head of the Syrian Air Force Intelligence. In that case, as with today’s arrest, the complaints submitted to the prosecutor by ECCHR together with torture survivors, activists and lawyers from Syria played an important role.
In November 2017, ECCHR and nine Syrian women and men filed a criminal complaint concerning crimes against humanity and war crimes with the German Federal Public Prosecutor. The complaint is directed against ten high-ranking officials of the National Security Office and Air Force Intelligence, among them Jamil Hassan, its former head.
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.
The Syrian government led by president Bashar al-Assad is responsible for systematic and widespread torture. This is why in March 2017, ECCHR, seven Syrian torture survivors and lawyers Anwar al-Bunni and Mazen Darwish submitted the first criminal complaint against high-level officials of the Syrian military intelligence service to the German Federal Prosecutor.
In Syria, the word Saydnaya has become a synonym for unimaginable torture, systematic degradation and mass executions. Together with four individuals who survived the torture in Saydnaya ECCHR has filed in Germany a criminal complaint against seven high-ranking Syrian military officials.
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