France points arrest warrants for Syria president and officers over 2013 chemical assaults – JURIST


France issued arrest warrants on Wednesday for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his brother Maher al-Assad, the de facto chief of the Syrian elite navy unit, in addition to two high-ranking armed forces generals. The arrest warrants stem from two chemical weapons attacks that occurred in Ghouta, Syria in August 2013.

The warrants are in reference to the continuing investigation into the two chemical weapons attacks. French officers launched the investigation in 2021 after the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)—alongside a number of different nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)—filed a criticism with the French Specialised Unit for Crimes in opposition to Humanity and Warfare Crimes of the Paris Judicial Court docket. The investigation revolves across the alleged duty of the Syrian authorities for using chemical weapons throughout the Syrian civil war. The assaults occurred within the metropolis of Douma and the Jap Ghouta area, which have been areas managed by opposition forces on the time, and resulted within the dying of over 1,000 folks.

SCM argued that using chemical weapons is a jus cogens crime, implying an absolute prohibition in opposition to the actions with no immunity based mostly on state management. Moreover, the Chemical Weapons Convention, which Syria grew to become get together to in 2013, particularly prohibits using chemical weapons reminiscent of sarin, the substance allegedly employed by the Syrian authorities. Regardless of Syria’s denial of utilizing chemical weapons, the UN mission uncovered “clear and convincing” proof of sarin use. The criticism can also be supported by victims’ testimonies and proof collected by varied organizations, together with declassified intelligence experiences, worldwide organizations’ contributions and open-source data evaluation.

The case is predicated on France’s precept of universal jurisdiction, which allows the prosecution and judgment of torture, crimes in opposition to humanity or warfare crimes when the acts have been dedicated overseas and neither the perpetrator nor the sufferer is French. Comparable complaints relating to using chemical weapons by the Syrian authorities have been submitted in Germany and Sweden.

Though issuing these arrest warrants is the following procedural step within the ongoing case, SCM has described it as a “historic judicial precedent.”

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