Criminal accusations levelled by seven survivors against regime forces include sexual abuse and torture.
A group of Syrians in Germany are using the country’s criminal system to help prosecute perpetrators of rape and other forms of torture back in their native home.
Seven men and women filed a criminal complaint with German federal prosecutors, which urged officials to look into abuses taking place within the Assad regime’s prison system.
The victims say that between April 2011 and October 2013, they were held in Assad’s air force facilities and were subjected to physical abuse - including rape.
There were also electric shocks adminstered to genitals, as well as sexual harassment and forced nudity.
Working in conjunction with the Syrian Women’s Network and Urnammu, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) said that it wants proceedings to lead to the issue of eight arrest warrants for identified suspects, in addition to the broadening of charges against one other suspect who is already the subject of ongoing criminal action.
In 2018, German authorities issued an arrest warrant against former regime air force intelligence chief, Jamil Hasan, for his role in the torture of dozens of Syrian prisoners.
The June 2020 case follows an April 2020 case that indicted a regime intelligence official named as Anwar R over the abuse of prisoners.
‘All kinds of torture’
An unnamed victim quoted in the ECCHR statement said, “I want the international community and judicial authorities to know what we went through just because we are women.
“We have suffered all kinds of torture, and verbal and physical abuse.”
However, these attempted prosecutions by the ECCHR and other NGOs, still represent some of the very few occasions anyone has tried to hold the regime to account on the international stage.
Rape and sexual abuse are among a vast array of tools used by Assad’s torturers. Most forms end with a loss of life.
The Caesar leaks of 2014 documented through photographic evidence - there were tens of thousands of photographs - uncovered the sheer scale of the issue.
The pictures depicted very visible signs of torture on the corpses of thousands of prisoners.
On Wednesday, the US government issued sanctions against anyone financially dealing with the regime. This comes in response to the abuse documented in the Caesar findings, as well as other regime violations.