Our comments to the BBC on the first Koblenz verdict for Syrian state torture

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Read our Director’s comments to the BBC on 24 February 2021, the day that the Koblenz Court delivers its first verdict under universal jurisdiction on Syrian state torture.

His full statement to the BBC read, 
“Tomorrow’s decision will enter the history books. Critics say that the accused, Eyad A., was a low-ranking intelligence officer who acted on superior orders and would have risked his life if he disobeyed; that he willingly cooperated with German authorities as a witness to the Syrian regime’s crimes against humanity and against Anwar R., and that his statements are now unfairly used against him. Critics also say that this exercise in universal jurisdiction at the complex intersection between politics and international law is too little, too late, and that it’s reputation laundering as Germany risks little by not turning a blind eye to the Syrian regime’s crimes against humanity while it fails to take a similar stance against equally horrifying atrocities committed by Iran or Qatar, states that are also active in Syria.
These are important points, but the trial is already a net positive. The victims were given a voice; the Caesar photos and other evidence of horrendous state torture on a mass scale were publicly discussed; and the legal record will continue to serve in a range of future cases, from sanctions to international tribunals. Post-conflict societies cannot stabilise without justice. It is precious even if the practical means of obtaining it are, by design, open to criticism. Tomorrow’s decision will be in history books – hopefully as a footnote in a fuller and better record of justice seen and done.” 

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Our comments to the BBC on the first Koblenz verdict for Syrian state torture