At the invitation of The Day After Organization, 20 members of 14 organizations working in civil society, transitional justice and peace efforts met with representatives of the National Coalition Of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces on 28– 31 January, announcing the establishment of the “Coordinating Group of Transitional Justice in Syria”.
Participants at the 4-day meeting discussed the objectives of the group and the prospects for its work, along with the challenges that may face those working in the field of transitional justice in Syria. They have established a strategy for their work, and chosen the coordinating follow-up committee, consisting of members of all working groups in the field.
Participants heard success and failure stories about experiments in transitional justice in other Arab countries including Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, and Lebanon, presented by experts and activist guests and advisers.
The participants decided that the Coordinating Group of Transitional Justice in Syria seeks to achieve a collection of objectives. Among them is: The coordination between all organizations working in the field of transitional justice in Syria, including violations documentation, publicity, advocacy and awareness, and prosecution for specific cases; support for the principle of collaborative work between these organizations; the formation of a digital library of all reports, statements and books and studies that deal with transitional justice issues in Syria and the region as well ascountries that have passed similar experiments; the formation of a media platform for the dissemination of data and material produced by transitional justice organizations; upgrade of the group to The Syrian Coalition of Transitional Justice in Syria.
The group will create a website for the group and communicate with all the organizations and civil and political parties working in the field of transitional justice through direct meetings, prepare periodic reports about the activities of the groups involved and a quarterly report on the activities undertaken in the field of transitional justice and the latest developments in this area.
The group agreed there are real challenges facing its work, among them is lack of trained staff, political agendas and bias, a lack of funding and communications difficulties because of the geographical distance between members. The group has determined strategies to face these difficulties.
The Coordinating Group of Transitional Justice in Syria identified a range of offenses and agreed work should be undertaken to hold their perpetrators to account. These include: Collective massacres, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and murder under torture, extrajudicial executions, assassination and persecution, recruitment of child fighters, use of illegal weapons, kidnapping, detention and forced disappearances, rape and sexual assault, forced marriages, imposing the veil or its other kinds of religious crimes.
On the last day of the meeting a follow-up committee of five was selected to coordinate with members of the group, and communicate with organizations outside the group, design the website and determine the mechanisms of communication between member organizations. it will also seek funding for operations. It was agreed that a meeting will take place in the presence of all members of the General Authority of the group, in the second week of March, 2014.