OHCHR / SYRIA GERMAN COURT

13-Jan-2022 00:02:15
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) hailed the “historic” conviction by a German court of a senior Syrian intelligence officer, for crimes against humanity. OHCHR
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STORY: UN / OHCHR / SYRIA GERMAN COURT
TRT: 02:15
SOURCE: OHCHR
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 13 JANUARY 2022, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND / FILE
SHOTLIST
FILE - GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1. Wide shot, Palais Wilson

13 JANUARY 2022, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

2. SOUNDBITE (English) Ravina Shamdasani, Spokesperson, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has today hailed the historic conviction by a German court of a senior Syrian intelligence official. This verdict should spur forward the momentum for international justice. This is a clear example of how national courts can and should fill accountability gaps for such crimes wherever they were committed, through fair and independent investigations and trials carried out in line with international human rights laws and standards. This serves as a powerful deterrent and helps prevent future atrocities. The 1984 UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment requires States Party to ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. They are required to establish jurisdiction over torture where the alleged offender is present on its territory. Anwar R was convicted of crimes against humanity for the perpetration of killings, torture, serious deprivation of liberty, rape, sexual assault and hostage-taking. This trial cast a much-needed, renewed spotlight on the kinds of sickening torture, cruel and truly inhuman treatment – including abject sexual violence – that countless Syrians were subjected to in detention facilities. It is a landmark leap forward in the pursuit of truth, justice and reparations for the serious human rights violations perpetrated in Syria over more than a decade. We pay tribute to the victims, their families and civil society organisations who persist in their demand for justice in the face of tremendous obstacles. This conviction has put State authorities on notice – no matter where you are or how senior you may be, if you perpetrate torture or other serious human rights violations, you will be held accountable sooner or later, at home or abroad.”
STORYLINE
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) today (13 Jan) hailed the “historic” conviction by a German court of a senior Syrian intelligence officer, for crimes against humanity.

The man, known as Anwar R, was charged with complicity in the torture of thousands of people between 2011 and 2012 in the Al-Khatib Branch of Syrian General Intelligence in the capital, Damascus. 

In a recorded statement, OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said, “this verdict should spur forward the momentum for international justice. This is a clear example of how national courts can and should fill accountability gaps for such crimes wherever they were committed, through fair and independent investigations and trials carried out in line with international human rights laws and standards. “

The Higher Regional Court in the German city of Koblenz sentenced Anwar R, 58, to life in prison for crimes that include torture, killings, serious deprivation of liberty, rape, sexual assault and hostage-taking.

Shamdasani said, “this serves as a powerful deterrent and helps prevent future atrocities. The 1984 UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment requires States Party to ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. They are required to establish jurisdiction over torture where the alleged offender is present on its territory.”

Anwar R was convicted of crimes against humanity for the perpetration of killings, torture, serious deprivation of liberty, rape, sexual assault and hostage-taking. This trial cast a much-needed, renewed spotlight on the kinds of sickening torture, cruel and truly inhuman treatment – including abject sexual violence – that countless Syrians were subjected to in detention facilities.

Germany adopted a Code of Crimes against International Law in 2002, which allows courts there to try crimes against international law committed in other countries where neither the perpetrator nor the victim is a German national.

The Code also excludes the statute of limitations for these crimes.

The spokesperson said this “landmark” conviction “has put State authorities on notice – no matter where you are or how senior you may be, if you perpetrate torture or other serious human rights violations, you will be held accountable sooner or later, at home or abroad.”

Anwar R was a supervisor of Eyad al-Gharib, a Syrian intelligence officer who was convicted by the same court last February for aiding and abetting crimes against humanity. He was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison.

The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria also welcomed Thursday’s verdict, though emphasizing the need to achieve justice for victims and survivors.

Syria is not a party to the Rome Statute, the 1998 treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC), which tries cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
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