Seek World Court ruling on Syria torture claims

The Netherlands and Canada jointly submitted a case against Syria to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) June 8, accusing the Damascus regime of committing numerous violations of international law, including torture, since the beginning of the country's civil conflict in 2011. The primary objective of the application is ICJ action compelling Syria to desist from any future use of torture. If the ICJ finds that it possesses authority to rule on the matter, it will mark the first instance of an international court adjudicating Syrian torture allegations.

In their application, Canada and the Netherlands request that the ICJ order Syria to immediately cease its ongoing violations of the Convention Against Torture, hold accountable and punish those responsible for acts of torture, and provide compensation to victims. The ICJ previously ruled that state parties to the convention share a common interest in preventing acts of torture and ensuring that those responsible do not escape justice. This precedent came in a 2012 case involving Belgium and Senegal.

The Netherlands originally initiated legal proceedings against Syria at the ICJ in 2020, and Canada subsequently joined the process in 2021. Both countries have made efforts to reach a negotiated settlement with Syria in accordance with the dispute resolution mechanism outlined in the UN Convention Against Torture, to which Syria is a state party. The negotiations have not yielded a resolution;  Syria has consistently denied accusations of torture, and failed to agree to the proposed arbitration within the specified time frame.

From Jurist, June 13. Used with permission.

Note: The Bashar Assad regime is now credibly accused of genocide, as well as war crimes and crimes against humanity. A group of Syrian refugees have announced that they are preparing to bring war crimes charges against dictator Bashar Assad before the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

The 2012 case brought by Belgium against Senegal concerned the extradition of former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré.

UN creates body to locate missing persons in Syria

The UN General Assembly voted on June 29 to create an independent body to determine the fate and whereabouts of more than 130,000 people who have gone missing during the conflict in Syria. The decision, proposed by Luxembourg, aims to resolve the problem of insufficient coordination among the bodies dealing with missing people in Syria.

Syria's UN ambassador opposed the new body, accusing member states of interfering in the country's affairs. (TNH)