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The Netherlands announced on Sept. 18 that it had notified Syria of its intention to hold that government accountable for torture under the United Nations Convention against Torture. The Syrian government responded by saying the Netherlands…
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Armed conflicts that have given rise to horrific war crimes in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and South Sudan are all beyond the reach of the ‘court of last resort,’ the International Criminal Court (ICC). But domestic courts in Europe are stepping into the void and…
Former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon
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For all his promises — and a Nobel Peace Prize — the Obama presidency delivered more hope than change

As Donald Trump prepares to take office, many fear a new hostility to human rights on the part of the United States. From his divisive rhetoric about minorities to his embrace of autocrats abroad, there is plenty to worry about.  Trump…
U.S. President Barack Obama waves at the conclusion of his final State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in Washington January 12, 2016.
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Refugees Assist Investigations in France, Germany and Sweden

As Bashar al-Assad’s forces ramped up their bombing campaign on rebel-held territory over the past year, his government may not have realized that they were cracking its shield against accountability for crimes committed in the Syrian conflict since 2011…
Shelters burning in Iqdah displaced persons camp near the closed Turkish border north of Aleppo after ISIS took over the camp on April 14.
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“Unimaginable Horrors”

The “unimaginable horrors” that the Islamic State (ISIS) is committing against the minority Yezidis, documented in a report released on June 16 by the UN-mandated Independent International Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the Syrian Arab Republic, shows the…
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In 2004, four Iraqis filed a criminal complaint with the German federal prosecutor against senior United States officials alleging torture by US armed forces in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The US government strongly protested and warned that the complaint…
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July 17, International Justice Day, is a reminder both of how difficult it is to bring the people responsible for the world’s worst crimes to justice and of how crucially important it is not to give up. Over the past two decades, trials for…
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With many hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the violence in Syria, the focus—as it should be—has been on finding them safety, shelter and aid. But some governments are also looking to hold those responsible for the underlying mass murder and torture…
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In the 1980s and early 1990s, a large number of Afghans fled to the Netherlands to escape the dire situation in their own country. But they weren't the only ones who left. Senior government officials, including agents of the secret service - the dreaded…
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Recently, US Secretary of State John Kerry reported that President Obama had asked his top aides for new policy options to address the situation in Syria. Though Kerry didn't elaborate what exactly was under consideration, one option the White House hasn’…
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The political negotiations over Syria, now set to continue next month in Geneva, will be tortuous and lengthy at best, while the Syrian government and certain opposition groups continue to commit horrible abuses against innocent civilians. But that doesn’…
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Washington’s response to the chemical weapons attack in Syria has been imbued with words ordinarily reserved for a courtroom. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have spoken of “accountability,” “impunity,” “punishment” and even “…
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The diplomacy over chemical weapons blinds us to the obvious: Assad's atrocities are a job for the international criminal court. As graphic images of adults and children writhing in pain began to emerge from Syria the morning of 21 August, it quickly…
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Unusual currents have been swirling around the United Nations Security Council’s shameful paralysis on Syria, a product of repeated vetoes by Russia and China. On January 14, a group of 58 governments urged the council to ask the International Criminal…
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No Escape from Accountability

  A photo of an elderly Syrian man standing in the middle of a graveyard was on the front page of many newspapers worldwide last week. He was mourning not only his sons but, tragically, his grandsons as well. All were killed in the armed conflict that has…
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(Brussels) - Catherine Ashton's mandate is to provide leadership on foreign policy and human rights. She has failed, however, to ensure a collective EU voice for bringing the crimes in Syria before the International Criminal Court (ICC). On 10 December,…
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The recent unification of Syria's opposition could curb human rights violations against civilians, but international pressure is still needed.

To limit the violations by both sides and ensure justice for victims, South Africa and other key members of the international community should support the referral of Syria to the International Criminal Court. Syrian human rights activists have collected…
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The candidates may disagree on some human rights issues, but the next president will face challenges that transcend partisan lines. How might tomorrow's presidential election affect U.S. policy on human rights? The common wisdom is that unlike their sharp…
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US military commissions revoke for al-Qaida suspects the standard of justice extended to Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg In the course of three days in late August, I travelled from Courtroom 600 in Nuremberg, Germany, where an international…
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Those responsible for war crimes in Syria must be pursued and prosecuted according to international humanitarian law

It is now widely acknowledged that an armed conflict is taking place across Syria between government forces (including militias) and organised armed opposition groups. This means the laws of war (also known as international humanitarian law, or IHL) apply…