Syria to face torture claims at ICJ

Syria to face torture claims at ICJ

Canada and the Netherlands have instituted proceedings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) charging Syria with violating the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. An ICJ press release says the complainants claim that Syria has committed human rights violations in the course of the country’s brutal civil war including “the use of torture”. Both also cited the use of chemical weapons.

According to the Convention against Torture, any dispute “concerning the interpretation or application” of the treaty which cannot be settled by negotiation must go to arbitration for a kegally-binding dispute settlement. In the event that the choice of an arbitrating body cannot be agreed upon within six months, the dispute can then be referred to the ICJ.

While Canada and the Netherlands first raised the matter with Syria in 2021, they ended up having to refer the case to the ICJ. If successful, this would be the first case of its kind brought against Syria at the ICJ.

The move by the two states to refer the case to the ICJ comes on the heels of the Arab states welcoming Syria back into the fold at last month’s Arab League summit.

According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), more than 230,000 civilians’ fatalities have been recorded since the onset of the civil war conflict in Syria, with at least 15,000 of those deaths attributed to torture.


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