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SNHR Participates in a Forum on the Legal Implications of the Sentence Issued by the Court in Koblenz Against Officer Anwar R.



Paris – Statement by the Syrian Network for Human Rights:
At the invitation of SAM for Rights and Liberties, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) participated in a forum on the legal implications of the sentence issued by the Court ain Koblenz against the former Syrian regime military officer Anwar R.
On Thursday, February 3, 2022, the SNHR participated in a forum organized by SAM for Rights and Liberties entitled “Legal Implications of the Sentence Issued by the Higher Regional Court in Koblenz, Germany, against the Syrian officer Anwar R. on the perpetrators of war crimes in the Arab world” to discuss the results and repercussions of the trial of Anwar R., who, from January 2011 to September 2012, headed the Investigation Department in Security Branch 251 (Al Khatib Branch), affiliated with the Syrian regime’s General Intelligence Service the event took place after the court convicted him on January 13, 2022, of torture, 27 murders and a case sexual assault, sentencing him to life imprisonment.

The forum, which was moderated by Ms. Hooria Mashhour, former Minister of Human Rights in Yemen, was attended by Mr. Abdelmajid Mrari, Director of AFD International’s Middle East Department, Dr. Francois Deroche, a medical doctor and Director of Justice and Rights Without Borders in France, and Mr. Fadel Abdul Ghany, Director of the Syrian Network for Human Rights.
Mr. Abdul Ghany spoke about the role and implementation of universal jurisdiction, recalling the historical context of events since the start of the popular uprising in Syria in March 2011, which was followed by Syrian regime forces and other parties committing violations amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity, after the uprising turned into an armed conflict. However, he continued, Russia’s use of the veto at the UN Security Council has obstructed the referral of the Syrian case to the International Criminal Court and has supported continuing impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes to date. The only means left to ensure accountability for the perpetrators of these atrocious crimes remains universal jurisdiction, which is part of international human rights law and the Geneva Conventions; it is, therefore, the duty of all governments of countries that respect international law to ensure that universal jurisdiction is upheld.
Mr. Abdul Ghany added that universal jurisdiction is concerned with criminal accountability only and it is part of the accountability process, clarifying that although numerous lawsuits and legal cases have been filed against those perpetrators of violations residing in European countries who are affiliated with extremist Islamist organizations and some of the factions of the armed opposition who have been involved in violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity, Anwar R.’s case gained greater media momentum because of the position he occupied in the Syrian regime entity as the head of the Investigation Department in Branch 251. Anwar’s trial was preceded by the trial of another member of the Syrian regime forces, Eyad. Gh.
Mr. Abdul Ghany pointed out that the presence of torture survivors and witnesses in Germany helped build the case against Anwar, demonstrating the essential role of human rights organizations such as the Syrian Network for Human Rights in contributing to reinforcing the case file with documented data and information. The Syrian Network for Human Rights contributed to the case by sharing a file containing data on 58 of the Syrian citizens who died as a result of torture in al Khatib Branch during the period of the convicted Anwar R.’s service at the Investigation Department, with this file handed over to the German Public Prosecutor through our partner, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, which, with its lawyers, supported 14 plaintiffs against the convicted man, Anwar. R.
Mr. Abdul Ghany said the significance of Anwar R.’s conviction on charges of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity lies in the fact that it is a condemnation of the entire Syrian regime. The definition of these crimes confirms that they are being committed as part of a large-scale systematic process and as state policy rather than being isolated incidents of abuse by individual personnel, with leaders and individual perpetrators bearing responsibility, with the argument that perpetrators were ‘only following orders’ being an inadmissible defense according to international humanitarian law.
Mr. Abdul Ghany further stressed that the trial of Dr. Alaa M. which is currently taking place in the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court, will be a separate and equally important conviction, as Doctor Alaa, like many other medical personnel in the Syrian regime’s military hospitals, tortured detainees rather than providing them with medical treatment, with this torture leading directly in many cases to their deaths.
Mr. Abdul Ghany concluded his address by emphasizing that, despite the fact of Anwar R.’s conviction being a positive step, this achievement should not be exaggerated, because it is just one small step on the right path and on the road to full accountability, and does not take into account the international community’s inability and failure to end any of the heinous violations that have been continuing for more than 11 years to date. In addition, he added this conviction will not constitute any deterrence for the Syrian regime to stop torture, including sexual violence, or to reveal the fate of the forcibly disappeared, as arbitrary arrests and killings under torture continue because it is a state policy, which will not end until the Syrian regime is deposed and its highest officials are held fully accountable, which can only take place with the achievement of political transition towards democracy and respect of human rights. Therefore, he added, we hope that this conviction will awaken the political process in Syria from its state of deep stagnation.
Participation in this forum forms part of the Syrian Network for Human Rights’ efforts to spread and promote a culture of human rights, support efforts to document violations, and issue reports based on these, raise awareness of the importance and centrality of the role of victims and emphasize the need for Syrian society to cooperate to expose those involved in perpetrating crimes, hold perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity accountable, and fight the culture of impunity.
The full transcript of the forum can be viewed at this link.

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