Since the beginning of the Syrian revolution in March 2011, when
Syrians came out to demand freedom, democracy, and justice, the
despotic regime responded by killing and arresting them. The Syrian
Center for Studies and Legal Research, which was established in Damascus in 2004, kept up with the course of events. The first objective was to defend the Syrian people’s rights and to demand change from the reality of despotism and impoverishment.
The second objective involved the Center’s lawyers volunteering to defend prisoners of conscience in the courts and before the official authorities, to demand accountability for those responsible for violations against peaceful civilians.
Second: The Center’s work
As the violence continued to under the authoritarian regime, the work of the Syrian Center continued to progress and began to focus on two missions. The first was to document victim’s testimonies. The second was to demand for and press for an international legal track to hold violators accountable. The Center developed a complex strategy which involved preventing criminals from impunity and bringing awareness to the international community. The Center tried to make this a priority for the international community so that it could not be ignored by the political will. This required an advocacy campaign, research, training lawyers, and preparing legal files. This history of the mission will be detailed as follows:
The legal course of justice within ten years of the revolution, in which the Center participated:
– 2014 submitted a file to the French Attorney General against Air Intelligence officials in Damascus by the families of two French-Syrian victims (Al Dabbagh) who were arrested and killed under torture by the Air Security Forces in Syria (FIDH-SCLSR-SCM).
– 2014, a Syrian victim files a file against Rifaat al-Assad in Switzerland for committing war crimes (Hama massacre – Palmyra prison massacre) TRIAL – SCLC.
– March 7, 2017 the first file on crimes against humanity against fifteen security officials from the Military Security Branch in Damascus was presented: 215 – 227 – 235 (ECCHR – CLSR – SCM -CFSG + 12 prosecutors and witnesses)
– 27 September “Caesar” provides the German Prosecutor with 2,700 photographs of victims and gives his testimony.
– November 8, 2017: A file was presented on officials responsible for torture and murder under torture at the Air Force Security Branch, Harasta Hospital, Tishreen Military Hospital, Mezzeh Hospital, Sednaya Prison, the Military Police and the Military Field Court. The file targeted 12 security officials, including Bashar al-Assad. (ECCHR -CLSR-SCM- CFSG +15 Prosecutors and Witness)
– May 28, 2018, a file was filed before the Austrian Attorney General on crimes against humanity against security officials in various security branches in Syria (ECCHR-CLSR-SCM-CFSG-CEHRI + 16 prosecutors and witnesses)
– On June 8, 2018, the Germany’s federal prosecutor issued an international arrest warrant against Gamil al-Hassan for crimes against humanity (forced concealment, torture and murder under torture), based on the files already submitted.
– June 28, 2018 A complaint was filed with the European Commission against Italy for the reception of Mamlouk despite the existence of European sanctions against him. -ECCHR -SCLSR -SCM -CFSG.
– November 2, 2018, the French judiciary issued international arrest warrants against Ali Mamlouk, Jamil Al Hassan, and Abdel Salam Mahmoud, for crimes against humanity (enforced concealment, torture and killing under duress/torture), based on the case filed by the families of Syrian citizens who were killed under torture.
– December 10, 2018: A German-French human rights award was awarded to the Center’s president. SCLSR.
– January 31, 2019, the US judiciary has sentenced the Syrian regime for the murder of journalist Marie Colvin. CJA.
– 7 February 2019, the Belgian judiciary issued a ruling against companies that supplied the regime with materials used in the manufacture of chemical weapons. ECCHR – Syria Archive.
– February 20, 2019: A file was submitted by the Swedish Prosecutor General against a number of senior security officials in Syria, accusing them of crimes against humanity. (-ECCHR -CLSR -SCM -CFSG -CRD + 9 Prosecutor and witness).
– February 11, 2019, the German Public Prosecutor issued an arrest warrant against Colonel Anwar Raslan and Iyad Gharib on charges of committing crimes against humanity, because of their work in Branch 251 State Security in Damascus (Al-Khatib Branch). -ECCHR -CLSR -CFSG -CRD.
– April 2019, investigations were launched in France about Rifaat Al-Assad’s funds. SHERPA
– May 15, 2019, we supported and contributed to the establishment of “families of ISIS victims.” HRW – SCLSR.
– June 2019 The Center launched a prosecution service for criminals and “shabiha” who are in Europe. -SCLSR.
– July 2019, the investigation begins in Spain with Rifaat Al-Assad, and the head of the center provides his testimony about the sources of illicit funds of Rifaat Al-Assad resulting from crimes he committed in Syria. -SCLSR.
– July 2019, a decision was issued by the Spanish judiciary against Muhammad Abdullah, a member of the Syrian regime’s militia, to eight months in prison for the crime of violating human dignity. Alkawakibi Center.
– 26 September 2019 Germany launched the International Alliance for the Prevention of Impunity at the United Nations.
– 29 October 2019, the German Public Prosecutor issued an indictment against Anwar Raslan and Iyad Gharib for committing crimes against humanity (torture and killing under torture).
– 30 October 2019, the Center took an action against two members of the Constitutional Committee, who were suspected of committing crimes against humanity. -SCLSR.
– November 12, 2019: A complaint was filed before the Public Prosecutor in Oslo, Norway against a number of regime officials for committing crimes against humanity. (Five witnesses and prosecutors) -ECCHR -CLSR -SCM -CFSG -OHC.
– November 22, Spain issued an indictment against Rifaat Al-Assad, his wife, and children,
for crimes committed as a vicious gang for laundering money for crimes committed in Syria. -SCLSR.
– December 2019 The US Congress passed the Caesar Act, which imposes penalties on criminals and their supporters.
– January 29, 2020, France arrested Majdy Nehme (Islam Alloush) on charges of war crimes, torture and enforced concealment. -SCM -FIDR.
– April 24, 2020, the trial of Anwar Raslan and Eyad Gharib begins.
– 18 June 2020 Seven survivors of torture and sexual violence submitted a file to the German Public Prosecutor against nine senior government and air intelligence officials. -ECCHR -Urnammu -SWN.
– June 4, 2020, the head of the center gave his testimony in the trial of Anwar Raslan. -SCLSR
– June 17, 2020, the French judiciary issued a decision to imprison Rifaat Al-Assad for four years. -SHERPA.
– June 18, 2020, Dr. Alaa Moussa was arrested in Germany on charges of committing crimes against humanity (torturing detainees). -SCLSR
– October 5, 2020 A lawsuit was filed before the German judiciary against regime officials over the use of chemical weapons in Ghouta and Khan Shaykhun. -SCM -OCF -Syria Archive.
– March 1, 2021, A lawsuit was filed before the French judiciary against those responsible for using chemical weapons in Ghouta. -SCM -OCF -Syria Archive.
– The family of a Syrian victim filed an accusation in Russia against members of the “Wagner” company committing a war crime.
-SCM -FIDH -Memorial.
Publications of the Center
The center published a series of books, studies, and reports, that focused on prosecuting and documenting the crimes of the Assad authority, the militias, and the networks it established on the political, military, security, economic and social levels, including the “civil society institutions” linked to security.
These publications also focused on monitoring, documenting and analyzing the methodology of the Assad Authority and its allies (Russia and Iran in particular) in committing mass crimes such as the destruction of urban cities over the heads of their inhabitants, the widespread detention, systematic killing, including killing under torture. Other mass crimes include forced displacement, forced demographic engineering, and demographic change, including the looting of Syrians’ property and real estate.
These publications aimed to determine the legal responsibility of the parties who committed these crimes and track them to ensure that they be held accountable and not with impunity. These publications served as a database for interested researchers and as a basis to launch legal cases before the judiciary.
Some publications specialized in addressing issues of children’s and women’s rights, rape crimes in the context of armed conflict, honor crimes, and the fate of refugees.
In addition, the Center has supervised and reviewed studies, research and reports issued by the Center for Democratic Republic Studies, including: “Palestine refugees in the Syrian plight, research papers, statistics, documents”,
“Syria: the era of warlords, the return of protection and commandments (1) the Shiite militia,” “On the relationship of Al-Suwaida with Daraa in the time of the revolution,”
“The governorates of Daraa and Al-Suwayda in the face of sedition – “Qadisiyah Busra” and its impact on the governorate of Al-Suwaida”, “Research on the conditions of Syrian refugee students in Lebanon” and “Education in Raqqa during the era of ISIS”
-the direct effects of school closures on students’ future with documents.
“The Conflict in Salamiyah City – A Model for Mafia Formation in Syria”, “Salamiyah City: “Panic is taking over the city,” and “The missed opportunity for Syrian opposition authority – Raqqa: From the Assad’s Cloak to the Sword of the Islamic State”…
The following is a review of some of the center’s publications:
Fatal Integration: “The Organization of the General Command” and “The Jerusalem Brigade.”
Employment in counter conflicts (1) “Assad’s authority” and the “Islamic State” in the As-Suwayda governorate.
A crime entitled: “Reconstruction”
Voices against of Silence
B- the Research
– “The security services in Syria reality and change”
– “The Palestine Liberation Army in the Syrian war”
– “Between the hammer of laws and the anvil of politics, what is the fate of the Syrian refugees?”
– “Detainees in the pathway of politics in hiding crimes and violations”
– “Rape as a weapon of war in the cases of armed conflict”
– “Child rights in Syria between reality and the law”
The center’s activities
The Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Research has carried out many activities over the past ten years, such as co-organizing advocacy campaigns for Syrian detainees and refugees, holding training workshops for human rights defenders on human rights issues, accountability, fairness and ensuring that criminals do not escape punishment.
In addition, the center contributed by spreading the constitutional culture and the legal culture through seminars and dialogues. Among the most prominent activities of the center are the following:
A- Launching a prosecution service for criminals and “shabiha” who are in Europe
In June 2019, the Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Research launched a prosecution service against criminals and “Shabiha” who are in Europe, on its official website and social networking site Facebook. This move comes within the center’s framework work to pursue war criminals and crimes against humanity, especially criminals who have arrived to Europe and obtained residency permits as refugees.
The center has designated an “email” to receive all available information from any person, about any of these criminals and “shabiha”. This was intended to support the work of the center on building a database on them, and in order to supplement the evidence that convict them for the crimes they have committed, and to inform the competent authorities of the countries of their residence in order to charge and prosecute them for such crimes.
B- Training workshops
– In September 2018, the Center held a training workshop for lawyers on prosecution, universal jurisdiction, and files preparation.
– On October 22, 2018, the Center held a training workshop for Syrian female lawyers on prosecution, universal jurisdiction, and file preparation.
– In September 2020, the Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Research held a qualitative training workshop, which lasted for three days, under the title “Towards a constitutional culture and the Rule of law in Syria,”.
C- “Syria is an Insecure Country” Campaign
Along with other human rights organizations the Center launched a campaign called “Syria is an Insecure Country” in October 2019.
D- A letter from the Syrian Center and Syrian organizations in Germany to the German Minister of the Interior
On June 17, 2019, the Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Research, in cooperation and with the participation of a number of Syrian organizations in Germany, sent a letter to the German Minister of the Interior about the legal situation and the dangers facing Syrians locally as well as Syrians abroad seeking to return.
The Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Research continues its work on all the tracks mentioned above in this report, focusing its attention on the legal path to achieve the rights of Syrians, and preventing the impunity of their executioners. Using the methods of research, documentation and participating in the preparation of cases, training staff, the center can achieve its mission. The focus of the mission is to spread the constitutional and human rights culture among Syrians who are eager for a new Syria; a Syria of justice, equality, law and democracy. From the beginning the Center sought to participate with all sincere institutions and individuals.
The goals of the legal march that the “Center” participated in was the struggle for its fulfillment, and the participation in its optimistic beginnings with all sincere institutions and individuals, to obstruct the efforts of rebuilding the regime of despotism and oppression in Syria to prevent impunity and to
restrict political movement by the controls of justice and rights which is the judiciary is a fundamental guarantee for it and it is not left to the behavior and interpretations of politicians.
We know on the path of achieving justice for the victims in Syria, punishing the perpetrators of crimes and violations, fighting impunity, that we are still at the beginning of the road, but we realized that these beginnings brought about great sacrifices, great efforts from lawyers and activists, and Syrian sacrifices. It allows the human rights defenders and human rights activists who adhere to the cause of truth, overcoming the self-diseases that have appeared in the Syrian political (milieu midst) to take steps forward in planning, preparation and work to continue to keep pushing forward.
SCLSR (Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Research)
ECCHR (European Center for Constitution and Human Rights)
SCM (Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression)
CFSG (Caesar File Collection)
CEHRI (International Center for Enforcement of Human Rights)
CRD (Civil Rights Defenders)
OCF (Open Society Organization)
Ohc (Helsinki Oslo Committee)
SA (Syrian Archive)
SWN (Syrian Women’s Network)
Urnammu Organization for Justice and Human Rights
SWN Syrian women network