Syria

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One Year On – Remembering the Al-Khatib Syrian Torture Case and Reflecting on the Documentation of International Crimes Cases in German Courts

One year ago, on 13 January 2022, the Higher Regional Court of Koblenz, Germany, convicted Anwar R, a senior member of the Syrian General Intelligence Service, of at least 4,000 cases of torture, the murder of 27 people and multiple cases of sexual violence as a crime against humanity in the context of the infamous Al-Khatib prison in Damascus, Syria. This was the first trial for state torture and crimes against humanity committed by the Syrian government against its own people. While the trial received worldwide attention (see for many here, here and here; it was even debated by the United Nations Security Council), public access to these historic proceedings was limited to those lucky few who could travel to Koblenz and get one of the, at times, much sought-after observer seats.   Several civil society organizations (CSOs) have tried to fill this gap by compiling trial monitoring reports (see for example here and here) or  producing outreach material (see for example here). In order to preserve…

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With No Judge or Jury, Who Will Decide the Fate of 4.1 million Aid-Dependent Syrians? A Comment on the Legality of UN-Coordinated Cross-Border Aid Operations in Syria

As the UN Security Council (“UNSC”) once again prepares to consider renewing the mandate for UN-coordinated cross-border humanitarian aid operations in Syria, 4.1 million aid recipients wait to see whether Russia will finally veto their last remaining lifeline. With stakes at their highest since 2014, relevant actors within the international community can revert to established legal positions surrounding…

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HF and Others v France: Extraterritorial Jurisdiction without Duty to Repatriate IS-Children and their Mothers

On 14 September 2022 the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR or Court) issued its judgment in HF and others v France, a case concerning the repatriation of IS-children and their mothers from Syrian camps. This judgment is interesting for various reasons: it addresses an issue that is controversial in many countries; it…

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Repatriating the Children of Foreign Terrorist Fighters and the Extraterritorial Application of Human Rights

UPDATE: The CRC admissibility decision referred to in the post is no longer publicly available via ODS. I am unsure as to why that’s the case. Readers can find it here. Now that we have all (sort of) recovered from the US elections, back to our regular programming: last week the UN Committee on…

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United in What? Some reflections on the Security Council’s sovereignty rhetoric in the latest Syria resolutions

The Security Council’s (SC) decision-making process on the renewal of humanitarian assistance for Syria caused a lot of unease amongst observers of the situation. Only a day after the previous aid program had expired, could a new agreement on the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Syrian people be reached. While the debates leading up to the…

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