November 2018: Austrian prosecutors initiate investigations into Syrian torture regime
The road to justice for war crimes and torture in Syria also leads through Europe. After Germany, Sweden and France, Austrian authorities have initiated investigations into the Syrian intelligence services’ role in systematic torture. The investigations were opened following a criminal complaint submitted by sixteen Syrian women and men to the public prosecutor in Vienna in May 2018. “I hope that Austria will now follow the example of Germany and France and issue arrest warrants against senior officials of Assad’s torture system,” said one of the complainants, who was tortured in Damascus by the military intelligence service.
The criminal complaint against twenty-four high-ranking officials of the government of Bashar al-Assad is the first of its kind in Austria. It was compiled by CEHRI and the ECCHR in Berlin, alongside Syrian partners. In light of the investigations, Board member Tatiana Urdaneta Wittek said that “the public prosecutor in Vienna has done important work in recent months. We are confident that the Austrian authorities will apply international criminal law as their colleagues did in Germany, France and Sweden. The crimes committed in Syria should be prosecuted throughout Europe, in a coordinated manner.”
May 28, 2018: Complaint submitted to the European Commission against the Government of the Italian Republic
The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), submitted a complaint to the European Commission against Italy for allowing Ali Mamluk to enter Italian territory and to meet with Italy’s former Minister of Interior Affairs earlier this year. Ali Mamluk, a high-ranking military official, is alleged to having been involved in ordering or knowing of oppressive measures (including attacks on unarmed protestors, arbitrary arrest warrants, detention and interrogations under torture) as part of a brutal crackdown by the Syrian government against peaceful protestors since March 2011.
CEHRI is dedicated to ending impunity for the atrocious crimes committed in Syria. We have hence expressed our support for the complaint by signing a formal letter of support, available here.