The Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC) strives to prevent impunity, promote redress, and facilitate principled reform. SJAC works to ensure that human rights violations in Syria are comprehensively documented and preserved for use in transitional justice and peace-building. SJAC collects documentation of violations from all available sources, stores it in a secure database, catalogues it according to human rights standards, and analyzes it using legal expertise and big data methodologies. SJAC also supports documenters inside Syria, providing them with resources and technical guidance, and coordinates with other actors working toward similar aims: a Syria defined by justice, respect for human rights, and rule of law.
At its second meeting, held in April 2012 in Istanbul, the Group of Friends of the Syrian People identified a need for an independent, multilateral institution to respond to increasing reports of massive rights violations and potential international crimes in Syria. The Group envisioned an entity that would take the lead collecting, processing, and preserving documentation of these violations, while coordinating with international and Syrian actors to advance justice and accountability efforts.
Syrian activists and international experts refined this vision in subsequent gatherings. In addition to supporting prosecutions, SJAC’s holistic approach would include truth-seeking, reparations, memorialization, reconciliation, and institutional reform as key components of a Syrian transitional justice process in the aftermath of widespread violations. SJAC would also be a repository of resources for Syrians to draw on as they explore, debate, and advocate for justice and accountability with a view to long-term peace.
In 2016, SJAC closed down its operations in The Hague after being registered there for three years, and moved its headquarters to Washington, DC. SJAC is currently registered as a nonprofit corporation in DC, with a Board of Directors that oversees operations, develops organisational policies, and guides institutional strategy. SJAC also has an Advisory Board of international experts to provide technical assistance on key issues.
SJAC’s vision is a Syrian state defined by justice, respect for human rights, and rule of law, where citizens from all components of Syrian society live in peace without fear.
SJAC’s mission is to promote justice and accountability in Syria by ensuring that human rights violations are comprehensively documented, and that documentation data is securely preserved, catalogued, and analysed to advance transitional justice and peace-building.