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Press Statement for Immediate Release

Updated: Jun 12, 2023

THE HAGUE, 12 June 2023 – The Governments of the Netherlands and Canada files Complaint against the Syrian Arab Republic in the International Court of Justice for Breaches of the UN Convention against Torture.

Since March 2011, according to the United Nations and human rights groups, hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians have been unlawfully killed and subject to arbitrary detention and torture. Hundreds of detention centres have been established to imprison and torture Syrian citizens and a large number of anti-government protesters have died or suffered torture as a result. Many remain enforcedly disappeared today.

Guernica 37 Chambers is proud to have been assisting the Government of the Netherlands in taking an important step to ensure that impunity is brought to an end and that there is a process aimed at justice and accountability for victims of torture in the Syrian Arab Republic. The Governments of the Netherlands and Canada have taken a critically important first step in addressing the Syrian State’s failure to respect its obligations under international treaty law for widespread human rights violations, including acts of torture and other inhumane acts prohibited by the UN Convention Against Torture, a treaty that Syria is party to and has failed to uphold the standards set out therein. Guernica 37 has assisted the Government of the Netherlands since 2020 receiving key statements from Syrian victims, collecting and presenting evidence and analysing Syrian laws and policies.

The Syrian Arab Republic, The Netherlands and Canada are parties to the Convention Against Torture, which allows state parties to refer the non-compliance to the International Court of Justice, should negotiations and arbitration fail. This filing is particularly important as tens of thousands of civilians remain in Government detention being subjected to torture and other inhuman treatment. The joint move by the Netherlands and Canada puts pressure for these violations to cease, perpetrators to be held to account, and victims to receive reparations.

The joint step taken by the Netherlands and Canada is of critical importance and could offer victims a realistic prospect of truth, justice and accountability on the international level. Official Statement of the International Court of Justice:


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