Syrian Survivors File a Lawsuit in Sweden Against Representatives of Assad’s Regime

Survivors of chemical weapons attacks in Syria have filed a lawsuit against the regime using the principle of universal jurisdiction, reports Baladi News.

A group of Syrian survivors and human rights groups have filed a lawsuit in Sweden against representatives of the Syrian regime for their role in the attack with Sarin gas in Ghouta, 2013, and Khan Shaykhun, 2017.

According to the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), the criminal complaint is filed before the Swedish police by Syrian victims and survivors, and civil society organizations including the Civil Rights Defenders, the Open Society Justice Initiative, the Syrian Archive, and the SCM.

“By filing the complaint, we want to support the victims’ and survivors’ struggle for truth and justice. We hope that a Swedish investigation into these crimes will eventually result in trials and convictions of those who ordered and carried out the attacks. Sweden can and should contribute to putting an end to the current state of impunity in Syria,” said Hadi al-Khatib, founder and director of the Syrian Archive.

The Syrian regime used sarin gas in two attacks; on Ghouta in 2013 and Khan Shaykhon in 2017, in which hundreds were killed and many more received serious injuries, including children. A criminal complaint is now filed in Sweden against high-ranking members of the Bashar al-Assad regime for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The filing comes one day before the 193 member states of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) meet to discuss, among other issues, what consequences this should have for Syria.

In addition to first-hand testimonies from the victims and survivors of sarin gas attacks in Khan Shaykhon and Ghouta, the criminal complaint contains hundreds of documentary evidence items, including photos and videos. Other documents show evidence of the type of chemical weapons being used and establish who was responsible for these attacks. It also contains a thorough analysis of the Syrian military chain of command.

“In the ten years since the first assaults on pro-democracy protesters in Syria, the government has strategically used chemical weapons as a tool to wear out the civilian population living in opposition-controlled areas and to suppress any resistance against the regime. It is unacceptable that those responsible for these heinous attacks are enjoying absolute impunity,” added Aida Samani, a legal adviser at Civil Rights Defenders.

Many Syrians living in Sweden have suffered significant trauma from the atrocities committed by the Syrian regime. Yet, perpetrators continue to walk free. Through the principle of universal jurisdiction, Swedish authorities can investigate and prosecute international crimes committed on a foreign territory by foreign nationals against foreign victims. As such, Swedish authorities can hold accountable those responsible for grave international crimes committed in Syria.

 

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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