International Crimes in Syria

Documenting International Crimes in Syria:
A Comprehensive Case Study Approach
August 24, 2015
As the conflict in Syria continues and large areas of the country remain ungoverned, civilians are under constant threat of harm, severe injury, and death as a result of the actions of the government and armed groups. During peacetime, crimes are reported to the police, and the perpetrators arrested and tried in courts of law for their crimes. Under the current conditions in Syria, there is no option for normal criminal accountability. While Syrian law may not be able to help the victims in the midst of the civil war, international law applies to many of the crimes being committed in Syria. There are ways to use international law both currently as an advocacy tool or in an international court, and also with a view to future criminal trials at international or Syrian courts applying international law.

Without the threat of being tried for their crimes, the armed groups terrorizing Syrian civilians will continue with their crimes without fear of accountability. Not only does documentation begin to rebuild the culture of accountability, but it also creates a record of the wrongdoing, recognizing and memorializing the suffering of the victims. Documentation creates a collection of information that may also be used later in criminal trials, and creates a complete picture of the situation in Syria, which could be used to urge action from the international community, even before any criminal trials can take place.