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Set Principled Framework for Aid, Protection, Justice

(Brussels) – The European Union-United Nations sponsored aid conference for Syria on March 29-30, 2021, should prioritize a rights-respecting aid framework that advances urgent protection, humanitarian, and accountability needs, Human Rights Watch…
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Limited Community Outreach Blunts Impact of Accountability Efforts

A German court in the town of Koblenz this week will render its first verdict in a historic trial of two former Syrian officials for atrocities during Syria’s decade-long brutal armed conflict. The two accused in the case are an alleged former…
Photos of Syrians who have been detained or disappeared set up by Families for Freedom, as part of a protest in front of the court in Koblenz, July 2, 2020. 
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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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Universal Jurisdiction Provides Opening for Justice

  (Berlin) – The start of a landmark trial in Germany of two people alleged to be former Syrian intelligence officials on crimes against humanity charges is an important chance for victims to see justice done, Human Rights Watch said today.…
Illustration © 2017 Brian Stauffer for Human Rights Watch
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Government Should Pursue Full Investigations, Fair Trials

The Australian government is taking an important step by helping eight Australian children of suspects of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) return home from northeast Syria. The children were held for months without charge under horrific…
Rusafa Central Criminal Court in Baghdad.
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Countries Should Account for Living and Dead in Syria, Other Wars

Today, the United Nations Security Council passed its first resolution on missing persons in armed conflicts, seizing a key opportunity to strengthen efforts toward uncovering the fates of those missing and giving closure to countless…
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Human Rights Council Panel commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Genocide Convention

As we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Genocide Convention, I wish to address the crucial role of the International Criminal Court in realizing its ideals. This year also marks the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the ICC’s…
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Investigative Team Briefs UN General Assembly

Update: The International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism concluded a cooperation agreement with the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria in March 2018. (New York) – UN member states should fully fund and cooperate with a…
Catherine Marchi-Uhel, head of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM), attends a news conference on Syria crimes at the United Nations in Geneva, September 5, 2017. © 2017 Reuters
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Establish Investigative Body on Chemical Weapons Attacks

*This news release has been updated to reflect two additional signatories, bringing the final number to 47. (New York) – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres should urgently appoint a team of investigators to identify those…
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during the United Nations Security Council meeting on Syria at the U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S, April 13.
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Foreign ISIS Detainees Raise Due Process, Victim Participation Issues

(Beirut) – The capture of two British men suspected of involvement in the Islamic State’s (also known as ISIS) torture and execution of Western hostages highlights the need to provide trials for ISIS suspects that respect due process…
A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces removes an Islamic State flag in the town of Tabqa, west of Raqqa city, Syria, April 30, 2017. © 2017 Getty Images
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Former Government Official Convicted in Dutch Court for 1970s Killings

The many victims of the brutal communist military dictatorship that ruled Ethiopia from 1974 to 1991, known as the Derg, had a rare victory this week. On December 15, former Ethiopian government official Eshetu Alemu was convicted of war crimes and…
A court sketch shows Dutch citizen and former Ethiopian government official Eshetu Alemu attending his trial for war crimes in The Hague, The Netherlands on October 31, 2017.
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Summary These cases are important. We need to know that these trials are happening because these are the crimes we are fleeing. —Hassan, Syrian refugee in Germany, February 2017 Over the last six years the Syrian crisis has claimed the lives of an…
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Efforts to bring those responsible for atrocities in Syria before European courts are starting to bear fruit, notably in Swedish and German courts, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. While various authorities in Europe have opened…
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Swedish and German Authorities Pursuing Cases for War Crimes in Syria

What kind of cases have been brought to trial so far? To date, seven cases for war crimes in Syria were brought to trial, three in Sweden and four in Germany. These few cases have mostly been against members of the Islamic State [ISIS], Jabhat…
Illustration © 2017 Brian Stauffer for Human Rights Watch
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Sweden, Germany Take Lead on Justice for Syrians

  (New York) – Efforts to bring those responsible for atrocities in Syria before European courts are starting to bear fruit, notably in Swedish and German courts, Human Rights Watch said in a report released…
Illustration © 2017 Brian Stauffer for Human Rights Watch
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Investigate Killings, Abductions of Foreign Men

  (Beirut) – Iraqi authorities are holding more than 1,400 foreign women and their children who surrendered with ISIS fighters in late August 2017, Human Rights Watch said today. The detentions appear to have no legal…
Iraqi Ministry of Transportation buses taking internally displaced families to Hammam al-Alil in May 2017. In late August, Iraqi authorities bused 1,400 foreign women and children to the site. © 2017 Belkis Wille/Human Rights Watch
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Summary On October 2, 2016 scores of people, possibly hundreds, died at the annual Irreecha cultural festival of Ethiopia’s ethnic Oromo people, following a stampede triggered by security forces’ use of teargas and discharge of firearms in response…
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Small Case in Sweden a Worthy Start

The photograph is disturbing. A young man in military fatigues is standing on dead bodies looking victorious. The posture of the Syrian soldier, with a grin suggesting pride and his military boot on a victim’s chest, suggests domination…
Stockholm District Court, where most of Sweden’s war crimes cases are adjudicated.
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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