Compendium of Documents Published to Facilitate Public Understanding of Historic Koblenz Universal Jurisdiction Verdict
To mark the one-year anniversary of the landmark verdict of 13th January 2022 by a German Court in Koblenz in the world’s first criminal case on state-sponsored torture in Syria, the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) with the support of Human Rights Watch published a compendium of materials, including key documents related to the trial. The digest includes the full indictments of the two former Syrian intelligence officers who were found guilty of overseeing torture, killings and sexual assault and aiding and abetting crimes against humanity in Syria, summaries of witness testimonies, trial interventions, news releases issued by the court and victims’ closing statements.
The aim of the project is to facilitate a greater understanding of how the trial, which was brought under the principle of universal jurisdiction, was conducted. As such, the documents are available in Arabic, English and German. Reflecting on the importance of the project for ensuring a greater understanding of how universal jurisdiction can be used in future to ensure accountability for grave human rights violations, Human Rights Watch stated;
“In Koblenz, the language of the court was German, so survivors, people affected by the crimes, and others who do not speak German depended on the reporting of those who could physically attend court hearings to follow the trial … Lack of translation into Arabic of the proceedings marginalised survivor and community participation in the Koblenz trial.”