A complaint for “crimes against humanity” and “war crimes” has been filed with the Paris judicial tribunal against the chemical attacks perpetrated in 2013 in Syria and attributed to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, announced three non-governmental organizations in a press release, published on Tuesday.
The Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) and Syrian Archive filed this complaint on Monday with the constitution of civil party. These organizations invoked the “extraterritorial jurisdiction” of French justice so that an investigating judge could investigate the sarin gas attacks committed in August 2013 in the city of Douma and in Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus. According to the United States, more than 1,400 people have died in these attacks.
A special international tribunal responsible for trying them claimed
This complaint, which is based on numerous testimonies and documentary evidence including photos and videos, should make it possible to “determine the responsibility of those who ordered and carried out these attacks”, indicate the NGOs, stressing that they have carried out an “analysis of the Syrian military chain of command”.
For Hadi al Khatib, director of Syrian Archive, quoted in the press release, the Syrian government, which “has not been transparent about its production, use and storage of chemical weapons”, “must be held responsible” . “In addition to investigating and prosecuting these crimes, when they are competent, states must cooperate to create a special international tribunal to try them,” for his part pleaded Mazen Darwish, director of SCM.
Syrian chemical weapons program “still robust”
The three NGOs had already filed a complaint in October 2020 with the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office, which targeted the facts of 2013 but also a sarin gas attack perpetrated in April 2017 in Khan Cheikhoun, between Damascus and Aleppo. “We ask the French investigating judge to conduct coordinated investigations with the German Federal Prosecutor,” said Steve Kostas, lawyer member of OSJI, also quoted in the press release.
After the 2013 attacks, the Syrian regime pledged to dismantle its stockpile of chemical weapons. But according to a report by OSJI and Syrian Archive revealed in October 2020, Syria has an “still robust” chemical weapons program, the Syrian authorities using “stratagems” to deceive the Organization for the prohibition of weapons chemicals (OPCW), the body believed to have dismantled the Syrian chemical arsenal.