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Accountability in The Hague: Recent Developments in Dutch Core International Crimes Cases regarding the Syrian Civil War

A month ago, the Dutch War Crimes Unit announced big news: for the first time in the Netherlands, an individual will be prosecuted for a crime committed against the Yazidis (see also here). The recent focus of the Dutch Public Prosecutor on possible crimes committed during the Syrian Civil War has already resulted in four convictions and at least four additional suspects have been accused of a core international crime. This blogpost will analyse trends from these four ongoing cases in the Netherlands and their implications for international criminal justice efforts. The legal framework in the Netherlands regarding the prosecution of core international crimes, as outlined in the International Crimes Act (Wet Internationale Misdrijven), allows for limited universal jurisdiction. Article 2 of the Act determines that a Dutch court can prosecute solely if a Dutch national has committed a core international crime, if an individual has committed a core international crime against a Dutch national or if an individual has committed a core international crime and is now on Dutch…

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There wasn’t before, and now there even more definitely isn’t, any legal barrier to providing cross-border humanitarian assistance in northwest Syria

For three long days following last week’s earthquake in Southern Türkiye, thousands of people in northwest Syria lay trapped under rubble, with no help from the UN. The road through Türkiye to the border crossing between southern Türkiye and northwest Syria, Bab al-Hawa, was damaged. Although, to quote the International Crisis Group’s Syria Analyst Dareen Khalifa,…

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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…

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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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