We Condemn the Votes by Russia’s ICJ Vice President and China’s ICJ Judge Against Provisional Measures that Call for Ending Torture in Syria
On Thursday, November 16, 2023, The Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivered its verdict on the request made by Canada and The Netherlands to indicate provisional measures on the Syrian regime in the case brought by the two countries against the Syrian regime ‘concerning the Application of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment’ (Canada and the Netherlands v. Syrian Arab Republic).
By the effect of this binding order, the ICJ indicated the following provisional measures on the Syrian regime (taken ad verbatim from the court document):
- The Syrian Arab Republic shall, in accordance with its obligations under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, take all measures within its power to prevent acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and ensure that its officials, as well as any organizations or persons which may be subject to its control, direction or influence, do not commit any acts of torture or other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
- The Syrian Arab Republic shall take effective measures to prevent the destruction and ensure the preservation of any evidence related to allegations of acts within the scope of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The provisional measures cited above were officially indicated by a majority of 13 votes, with two votes against, coming from Russia’s Kirill Gevorgian, who holds the position of ICJ Vice President, and China’s Judge Xue Hanqin.
On Tuesday, October 10, 2023, the ICJ held the first public hearing session on the case on the Application of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, brought by Canada and the Netherlands as State Parties to the Convention, against the Syrian regime. At the request of the two countries; the session focused on imposing what are known as provisional measures on the Syrian regime to compel it to immediately cease torture against potential victims, while the trial of the Syrian regime for the alleged violation of the Convention Against Torture proceeds.
According to the court session’s transcript, the case draws upon a number of UN sources, as well as on data provided by the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), which was cited as a source 14 times, while the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (COI) was cited 24 times. On October 11, we released a statement outlining the key developments emerging from the case.