Seeking justice for civilian victims of the Syrian civil war — a global issue
Aida Samani Civil Rights Defender
  • Written by Paul Virgo (Rome)
  • interpress service

Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad systematically used heavy artillery in the Bab Amr area, where the FSA had set up a military council, and covered the area with tanks, helicopters and thousands of ground troops. continued to surround.

Many civilians were killed during the war 1 month campaign By the time the Syrian army occupied it on March 2, 2012, most of the nearby buildings were reduced to rubble.

The violence didn’t end there.

Since then, numerous extrajudicial executions have been carried out by government security forces and the Shabiha militia loyal to Assad.

Syrian military attacks subsequently followed the same pattern elsewhere.

The city of al-Rastan, located between Hama and Homs, and the towns of the al-Houra region, about 30 kilometers northwest of Homs, suffered similar attacks in the spring of 2012 of sieges, indiscriminate shelling, and extrajudicial executions. experienced tactics. International humanitarian law.

Syrian military officials involved in atrocities that left thousands of civilians dead and injured had reason to believe they would not face any consequences for their actions.

until now.

This month, the Stockholm District Court began the trial of a brigadier general who led a weapons unit of the Syrian army’s III Corps, 11th Division, in Homs and Hama for his role in attacks from January to July 2012.

He is accused of aiding and abetting war crimes, and the trial will be the first in Europe regarding indiscriminate attacks on civilians by the Syrian army in the context of the war.

“This is therefore the first time that victims of such attacks have the opportunity to speak out and receive redress before an independent tribunal,” said Aida Samani, senior legal advisor at the human rights group. civil rights defenderhe told IPS.

“A conviction would provide new evidence to countries seeking to normalize relations with Syria that the states they are approaching are and are systematically and intentionally harming their own people. It will send a signal.”

The defendant served in the Syrian army until July 2012, after which he defected.

“The defendant moved to Sweden in 2015, but we have not seen anything to suggest that he has left,” Samani said.

“In 2018, the Swedish Migration Agency reported the defendant to the War Crimes Unit of the Swedish Police, claiming, based on information obtained from the defendant himself, that he was a high-ranking official during the wartime period of the Syrian Army. He was committing a war crime.”

She said Syria has not ratified the ICC law and attempts at the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the tribunal have been vetoed by Russia and the International Criminal Court (ICC). ) explained that they could not take up the case. China.

“This means that the only possibility for victims to receive redress now is in countries like Sweden, which have laws that allow authorities to prosecute and punish people for war crimes committed abroad. That means through the national courts,” Samani said.

There are currently eight plaintiffs in the case, some of whom were injured, lost family members, or had their homes destroyed in the attacks.

Prosecutors called 15 witnesses, including witnesses who could talk about the events in question.insider, They are mostly defectors and can testify about the 11th Division’s involvement in the attack.and expertsWho can explain the military structure of the Army and the responsibilities of brigadiers?

Samani said the incident could set a precedent that could later be used in relation to what is happening in other conflict zones, such as Ukraine and Gaza.

“Similar cases concerning indiscriminate attacks carried out in countries other than Syria may come before national courts across Europe,” she said.

“This assumes there is sufficient evidence in the case and that the procedural requirements are met for authorities to investigate, prosecute, and sentence the alleged perpetrator.”

© Inter Press Service (2024) — All rights reservedSource: Interpress Service

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