Juvenile Justice and Victim Participation in trials of Foreign ISIS Members 

  Two recent cases in Germany raise the question of how to balance the rights of juvenile defendants with the rights of victims to participate in proceedings. The Higher Regional Court in Düsseldorf, Germany, recently sentenced Sarah O. to six and a half years imprisonment for membership in a foreign terrorist organization, commission of crimes […]

What Afghanistan Portends for Syria

  As of this writing, Afghanistan remains in crisis with victims reeling from ISIS-Khoresan’s attacks on civilians and U.S. soldiers at the Kabul airport. Numerous efforts are underway to evacuate U.S. citizens, as well as Afghans whose assistance was crucial in facilitating the work of the U.S. efforts at state-building. The disturbing reality of the […]

Lebanon’s Economic Turmoil: Syrians face Unique Vulnerabilities

  One year after the Beirut blast that killed over 200 people, including Syrian refugees, Lebanon lacks a functioning federal government, faces steep inflation, and according to its, now former, Prime Minister is “days away from social explosion.” Lebanon, with a population of 6 million people, is home to the world’s largest number of refugees […]

The “Post-War” Tour: How Tourism is Empowering the Syrian Government

  The Syrian government’s latest national budget paints a grim picture of the country’s finances. With mounting war debt and a 400% decrease in GDP, the government is facing a dire food crisis and may be unable to pay military wages by 2022. Bashar Al-Assad’s government is desperate to open new revenue streams that can […]

Greece and Denmark Outsource Human Rights: Back door returns of Syrian refugees

  Since 2015, waves of displacement around the world have led thousands of refugees to Europe’s borders, putting a strain on its asylum system and creating a humanitarian crisis. Consequently, several European states have recycled proposals to offshore their responsibility to protect refugees under international and European law. This article examines the latest attempts by […]

Press Release – Refuge No More: The Danger of Forced Return to Syria

  “The international community should end the forced return of Syrian refugees,” said the Syria Justice and Accountability Center in a new report issued today marking the 21st World Refugee Day. The new report, “Refuge No More: The Danger of Forced Return to Syria,” documents the continuing danger of arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killing, and persecution […]

Yazidi Survivors of ISIS are Still Waiting for International Support

  In the aftermath of the territorial defeat of ISIS, harrowing stories of Yazidi survivors of ISIS’s kidnappings and ethnic cleansing were shared around the world. On social media, Yazidi women newly freed from ISIS captivity, were seen receiving assistance and security assurances from the UN and humanitarian organizations. However, despite the promises made, many […]

Blackmailing Syrians: Confiscating the Properties of Draft Evaders

Statements made several days ago by Brigadier-General Elias al-Bitar, head of the army’s Exemption and Reserve branch, have sown chaos and confusion among Syrians. Syrian men living outside the country and above the age of conscription have been threatened with the seizure of their property, as well as the property of their relatives, if they […]

Assad’s Son, Math Competitions, and Solving the Syrian Nepotism Equation

On July 17, Hafez Al-Assad, the son of Bashar Al-Assad, participated in the International Math Olympiad competition in Brazil as a member of the Syrian national team. Hafez scored last on the team and received one of the lowest rankings in the entire Olympiad competition. Syrian commentators were quick to ridicule his scores, but their […]

Monitoring is Needed for All Detention Facilities in Syria

Inside Saydnaya: Syria’s Torture Prison, Video of Amnesty International   Prisons are by their very nature isolated and concealed spaces where abuses can go unnoticed, and in countries with ongoing conflict, prisons are often rife with human rights violations. Already, a former photographer with the Syrian military police showed the world evidence of widespread torture […]

Public Participation is a Must for Drafting Syria’s Next Constitution

In December 2015, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2254 with the goal of creating a roadmap to facilitate a political transition in Syria. In the recent round of peace talks, the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura prioritized elections and a new Syrian constitution as key steps to implement the Resolution. The United […]

Recent Tragedy Highlights Plight of Syrian Refugees

In mid-April, over 900 migrants, many of whom were Syrians, drowned at sea while making the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe in an event that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, lamented as a  “a tragedy within a tragedy.” The Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC) is troubled that hundreds of […]

Recent Prisoner Release Fails to Build Trust Among Syrians

In late March, Russia facilitated the release of nearly 700 prisoners held by the Assad regime. While Russia’s Foreign Ministry lauded the decision as a confidence building measure designed to demonstrate Assad’s willingness to begin negotiating a political solution, the arbitrary nature of the prisoner release illustrated the serious rule of law concerns that plague […]

Sweden’s First Steps towards Justice Prove Controversial among Syrians

In late February, a Swedish court sentenced Mouhannad Droubi to five years in prison for committing a “torture-like” assault of a captured regime soldier in 2012. Droubi was a member of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) at the time but had been living in Sweden since being granted asylum in 2013. The case, which marks […]

Jordan’s Vengeance against ISIS Sets Bad Precedent for Syria

United States and Royal Jordanian air forces conducting exercises over the Dead Sea in Jordan (Photo Credit: US Air Force) Earlier this month, the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) burned the captured Jordanian pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh alive, filmed his execution with cinematic levels of production, and released the video worldwide. The brutality of the […]

Attend SJAC Event Examining Syrian Perspectives on Local Ceasefires and Reconciliation Initiatives

In the year since the Geneva II talks failed to deliver any discernible progress towards a resolution of the conflict, the humanitarian and security situation in Syria has further deteriorated. With a recalcitrant regime, growing extremism, and a faltering moderate opposition, support among Syrians for a broad-based, internationally negotiated settlement to the crisis has diminished […]

Evaluating Assad’s Claims of Regime-Backed Accountability Measures

  In an interview with Foreign Affairs magazine coinciding with the Moscow discussions that took place in late January 2015, Bashar al-Assad discussed several points relating to the transitional justice and accountability process in Syria.  Assad spoke conceptually about Syria’s commitment to upholding human rights but provided only vague and evasive answers when pressed on […]

The Plight of Syrian Prisoners Poses Significant Obstacles for Transitional Justice

As the Syrian crisis enters its fifth year in March, hundreds of thousands arrested on a variety of fraudulent charges languish inside regime prisons, denied due process and deprived of basic human rights.  Extensive evidence, including thousands of photographs obtained and disseminated by a former military police photographer known as Caesar, documents the institutionalized campaign […]

Justice, peace, or neither?

This spring brought poignant anniversaries: it has now been three years since the inception of the Syrian crisis, twelve years since the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and twenty years since the Rwandan genocide. The links are clear. To what extent can institutions of justice, such as the ICC, address ongoing conflicts? Can […]

Syrian Perspectives on Transitional Justice and Geneva II

On January 29, SJAC convened a discussion entitled “Syrian Perspectives on Transitional Justice and Geneva II.” This event served in part to launch ‘He Who Did Wrong Should Be Accountable: Syrian Perspectives on Transitional Justice,’ a report conducted by Charney Research in cooperation with SJAC based on in-depth interviews with 46 Syrians from a wide […]

“He who did wrong should be accountable” Syrian Perspectives on Transitional Justice

As Syrian opposition and government leaders meet in Geneva, it is critical to consider the opinions of Syrians on the ground, particularly concerning political settlements and transitional justice mechanisms.   Research commissioned by the SJAC does just this—uncovering promising results. The research,  which is detailed in the report “He who did wrong should be accountable,” gathered […]

Institutional Reform Needs Documentation

Today’s post spotlights the first installment of the Syria Justice and Accountability Centre’s “Memorandum Series.” For more on Documentation and Institutional Reform, download and read the full memo “Syria: Data, Documentation and Evidence to Support Institutional Reform,” prepared for the SJAC by Daniel Serwer, here. Documentation lies at the center of the SJAC’s work, and […]

Wise Words That Deserve Repeating: The ICTJ on Syria

Earlier this month the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) released a brief titled “Towards a Transitional Justice Strategy for Syria.” There’s a lot to like in ICTJ’s analysis, and we at the SJAC wanted to take the opportunity to highlight some of the report’s particularly important points that deserve repeating. The emphasis on Syrian […]