A Historical Victory for Justice: German court Convicts Syrian Officer for Crimes Against Humanity

Ahmed Farooq, International Law Officer

23 Feb 2021

On 24 February 2021, the Higher Regional Court in Koblenz, Germany, convicted Mr Eyad al-Gharib for four-and-a-half years for aiding and abetting crimes against humanity.

Mr al-Gharib—a former, relatively lower ranked Syrian officer—entered Germany in April 2018. In the months that followed, German police officers questioned him regarding the violence he witnessed under Assad's regime. Al-Gharib told the German investigators that during the early days of the 2011 uprising, he had taken thirty protesters to an interrogation facility known as Branch 251. Al-Gharib stated that he was aware that the protestors would be beaten during their transit and tortured at the facility.

In February 2019, the German and French police arrested Mr al-Gharib alongside Anwar Raslan, who was accused of being a high-ranking official who ran the General Intelligence Directorate’s al-Khatib prison in Damascus.

Human rights groups are marking the court's decision to convict Mr al-Gharib as a historical victory for justice. Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Lynn Maalouf, said:
"Today's historic verdict – the first of its kind for crimes under international law committed by a Syrian government official – is a resounding victory for the tens of thousands of Syrian torture survivors and victims of enforced disappearance as well as for Syrian and international human rights and litigation organizations who together, for years, have fought relentlessly for truth and justice."

Like Amnesty, human rights groups hope that the international community will recognize and take concrete steps to hold individuals who commit crimes against humanity accountable.

Read more about the decision here: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/02/germany-syria-conviction-of-syrian-official-for-crimes-against-humanity-a-historic-victory-for-justice/.
Alternatively, check out this New York Times article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/24/world/middleeast/germany-court-syria-war-crimes.html.