Thema

War Crimes

Attacks directed against civilians; torture of detainees; sexual slavery – when committed within the context of armed conflict, these and other grave crimes amount to war crimes as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. While the system of international criminal justice makes it possible to prosecute war crimes, in many cases those responsible are not held to account.

There is often a huge gap between the promise of international criminal law and the reality of how it is enforced. While there have been trials for war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, to date no politician or military officer from a Western state has ever sat on the defendant's bench at the International Criminal Court or a UN Special Tribunal. The double standards of international criminal justice in many cases represents an obstacle to the enforcement of universal human rights.

When addressing crimes committed in armed conflict, it is essential that the law applies equally to all. ECCHR takes legal action to address war crimes like the abuse of Iraqi detainees by British soldiers and torture in detention facilities run by the Syrian intelligence services. ECCHR uses a range of legal approaches – submissions to the International Criminal Court, criminal proceedings in national jurisdictions, actions under the principle of universal jurisdiction – to challenge impunity for war crimes. 

Democratic Republic Congo

Groundbreaking trial in Germany

Armed Conflict

The Higher Regional Court in Stuttgart handed down convictions in the trial of two Rwandan leaders of the Hutu militia group FDLR, Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni. The FDLR are alleged to have utilized sexualized violence against the Congolese civilian population and to have in numerous cases plundered, killed and inflicted grievous bodily injuries.

Gaza

Israeli air strikes in Gaza: Justice in the Kilani case

War Crimes

In the course of a military action in Gaza in July 2014, Israel's armed forces killed, among others, members of the German-Palestinian Kilani family. Israeli legal authorities have to date refused to investigate. ECCHR, on behalf of Ramsis Kilani from Germany, who lost his father and half-siblings in the strike, demands that Germany investigate.

Yemen

European responsibility for war crimes in Yemen

War Crimes

In October 2016 an airstrike – alleged to have been carried out by the Saudi-led military coalition – struck a civilian home in the village of Deir Al-Hajari in northwest Yemen. The intentional directing of attacks against the civilian population amounts to war crimes. ECCHR is taking legal action against this.

Philippines

Philippines: Compensation for Sexual Slavery during Second World War

Sexualized Violence

In 2013, ECCHR submitted a petition to the Philippine Supreme Court. ECCHR calls for individual compensation to be provided to Philippine survivors of sexual violence (so-called 'comfort women') during the Second World War.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka – War crimes and gender-based sexual violence

Armed Conflict

Ever since the final stages of the Sri Lankan civil war in 2009, issues of the criminal accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity and the ongoing sexualized violence against women have been part of ECCHR's work.

Sri Lanka

Sexualized Violence in Sri Lanka

Armed Conflict

Sri Lanka must comply with its international obligations in the fight against gender-based discrimination. The country should bring its law in line with the UN Convention on Women.

Syria

Lafarge in Syria – Accusations of complicity in grave human rights violations

Armed Conflict

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.

Syria

German authorities issue arrest warrant against Jamil Hassan, head of the Syrian Air Force Intelligence

Torture

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.

Syria

Torture under the Assad Regime

Torture

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.

Syria

"Caesar" Photos Document Systematic Torture

Torture

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.

Syria

Saydnaya Military Prison – Objective is to physically and psychologically break detainees

Torture

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.

Syria

The path to justice leads through Europe – e.g. Austria

Torture

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.

USA

France: Court investigates US torture cases

Guantánamo

Former Guantánamo detainees Sassi and Benchellalifiled a complaint in France against William Haynes. He was one of the Architects of torture during the George W. Bush administration.

USA

Criminal Complaint against Bush

Torture

As a signatory of the Convention against Torture, the US is obliged to prosecute for these crimes. Nevertheless, there is evidence concerning the torture program after 11 September 2001 with a particular focus on the liability of high ranking American officials, including former President Bush.

USA

Germany: Criminal Complaint against CIA Director Gina Haspel

Torture

ECCHR has filed a criminal complaint with the German Federal Public Prosecutor calling for investigations into Gina Haspel's role in the torture of detainees at a CIA secret prison in Thailand in 2002. Haspel was appointed Director of the CIA by President Donald Trump in May 2018.

United Kingdom

War crimes by UK forces in Iraq

Iraq

ECCHR demands investigations into the role and responsibility of British military officials in Iraq. A communication documents 2000 cases of grave mistreatment during the five years which UK forces operated in Iraq.