ECCHR's criminal complaint to the German Federal Public Prosecutor concerning the US torture program is based in part on the German Code of Crimes against International Law (Völkerstrafgesetzbuch), which criminalizes war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Germany's Code of Crimes against International Law is based on the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows for prosecutions for certain serious crimes even in countries with no direct link to the perpetrator, victim or the place where the crimes were committed. This aims to prevent impunity in situations in which the state where the crimes were committed, or the state of which the perpetrators/victims are nationals, is unable or unwilling to conduct prosecutions.
The principle of universal jurisdiction for the crime of torture is also set out in the 1984 Convention against Torture which has been ratified by 163 states including Germany and which is implemented in German law. Articles 6 and 7 of the Convention oblige states parties to prosecute torture and to take steps towards prosecution – including taking the individual into custody – if an alleged perpetrator is present on their territory.