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2018 | ECCHR and CEHRI Complaint in Austria against Syrian regime officials

In May 2018, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rightstogether with the Center for Enforcement of Human Rights International and several Syrian survivors and lawyers submitted a criminal complaint to the prosecutor in Vienna. The complaints address torture, as a crime against humanity and as a war crime, in detention facilities run by the Syrian Military Intelligence, the Air Force Intelligence and the General Intelligence. In November 2018, Austrian authorities have initiated investigations into the Syrian intelligence services’ role in systematic torture.

The criminal complaint is based on the principle of universal jurisdiction which allows national jurisdictions of third countries, in this case Austria and Germany, to investigate serious crimes committed in Syria.  This report by ECCHR provides additional information on the circumstances that led to the complaint, the legal avenues available for investigating and prosecuting Syrian regime officials and the legal framework which allows Austria to have jurisdiction over the case. 

Against the backdrop of these early investigations into the actions of the Syrian Regime, this article explains the legal parameters that currently protect President Assad from prosecution, as well as the future circumstances in which information gathered against him and his government may yet serve to hold the regime accountable.