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2017 | ECCHR Criminal Complain in Germany for crimes against humanity and war crimes

With this press release, the ECCHR announces the key passage of evidence of the ‘Caesar Files’ to the German Federal Prosecutor. For the first time, the Caesar Files Group, a group of lawyers and Syrian activists who have helped to smuggle out of the country thousands of pictures of detainees killed under torture in Syrian detentions, filed a complaint with the German Federal Prosecutor against senior officials from the Assad regime for crimes against humanity and war crimes. This legal action follows the other criminal complaint already filed by torture survivors with the Federal Prosecutor in March 2017. In June 2018, the German Federal Prosecutors have issued an international arrest warrant for the head of the Syrian Air Force Intelligence, Jamil Hassan.

Caesar Files represent key evidence of the systematic torture committed in Assad prisons. Taken between 2011 and 2013 and smuggled out of Syria, the pictures provide evidence regarding the methods of torture used, the cause of death of hundreds of victims, and the locations and institutions implicated in the crimes.

Since 2012, Syrian human rights groups have tried to find possible venues for holding the Assad regime accountable for its crimes. Syria is not a party to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and therefore this Court does not have jurisdiction over crimes committed in the country. Additionally, no referral to the ICC by the UN Security Council has been possible given the political support of China and Russia for the Assad government which had vetoes several resolutions on the issue. For the same reasons, also the creation of an international tribunal for Syria is not possible. Therefore, prosecutions in third-party states, where universal jurisdiction applies as Germany, are the only venues available to investigate and prosecute these crimes.