Five Syrian torture survivors living in Norway have filed legal complaints against senior officials of the Syria's Bashar Assad regime, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) announced yesterday. Trials and investigations in Europe can pave the way to end impunity for grave crimes committed by the Syrian regime, the Berlin-based institution said in a statement. The complaint filed by the Syrian nationals documented crimes committed by 17 senior officials connected to the regime's Military Intelligence, General Intelligence, and Political and Criminal Security divisions. Lawyers asked the Norwegian prosecutors to investigate these 17 intelligence officials and issue international arrest warrants. One of the plaintiffs, who was detained by the Syrian General Intelligence and subjected to various torture techniques, said he wanted to see those responsible for Assad's torture system to stand trial. "I joined this criminal complaint in Norway because in my own country, there is no prospect of achieving accountability. Investigations in Europe will send an important signal to Syria: no one, not even high-ranking officials, are above the law," he said.
The legal initiative was backed by several institutions including the ECCHR, Syrian Center for Legal Research and Studies (SCLRS), the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), the Caesar Files Group (CFSG), and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC). Back in June, the Syrian Human Rights Network (SNHR) announced that over 14,000 civilians have died of torture since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011. "Some 14,227 individuals (including 177 children, 62 women) have died due to torture at the hands of main parties to the conflict in Syria from March 2011 to June 2019," according to the SNHR report, which marks the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, falling on June 26. Torture by the Bashar Assad regime forces made up 14,070 of this number, including 173 children and 45 women. The report stressed that the figures consisted of only those that can be identified, and that the real death toll is much higher.
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