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We need bet­ter laws to pros­e­cute atroc­i­ties in Syr­ia

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Syrian civilians have paid a heavy price for a decade of war in which their government and parties to the conflict, such as ISIL (ISIS), have violated nearly every core human right and committed almost every atrocity.

From summary executions, torture and the forcible disappearance of tens of thousands of people, to chemical weapons use, genocide against the Yazidis, and the deliberate targeting of hospitals and health workers, to the bombardment of civilians under the guise of waging a war on “terrorists”, the list of despicable crimes is seemingly endless. As a result of the violence, half of Syria’s prewar population has been displaced, many repeatedly.

At present, all avenues to justice are blocked in Syria and victims can only turn up outside courts in other states. Recent developments have given rise to hope, as states have advanced prosecutions and several court cases against Syrian nationals accused of committing atrocities have ended with guilty verdicts. However, in some countries, there are still a number of legal barriers that need to be lifted to enable the prosecution of international crimes.

In principle, the Syrian government should hold accountable all perpetrators of atrocities committed on its territory by bringing those responsible before independent courts.

In practice, arbitrary actions by the Syrian security apparatus and unfair proceedings by counterterrorism and field military courts are facilitating further........

© Al Jazeera

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