Torture, executions and "disappearances" of civilians, deliberate attacks on civilian infrastructure and indiscriminate bombings, genocides and sexualized violence against Yezidi 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.
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 General Assembly established the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria and the "International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of those Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011" (IIIM). The investigators have been gathering evidence against all parties to the conflict for more than six years. The information gathered by the UN-Commission are essential for future legal proceedings in national, regional, or international courts.
ECCHR has been investigating crimes committed by all parties of the conflict since 2012 and is now working with an international network.
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.
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.
Senior officials of Bashar al-Assad's government are responsible for the international crimes committed at Air Force Intelligence branches. A criminal complaint supported by ECCHR is directed against ten named high-ranking officials from the National Security Bureau and the Air Force Intelligence.
Syrian prisons have been places of systematic degradation, unimaginable torture and mass executions for several years. ECCHR supported a criminal complaint that was filed in Germany against seven high-ranking Syrian military officials.
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.
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.