On 23 April the Higher Regional Court in Koblenz, Germany, began the first trial worldwide on state torture in Syria. Anwar Raslan is accused of overseeing the torture of at least 4,000 people, 58 murders and related crimes of rape and sexual assault at the detention centre of the General Intelligence Service’s Al-Khatib Branch in Damascus. Eyad al-Gharib is accused of aiding and abetting torture in at least 30 cases.
Syria’s survivors of torture will testify before the German court as part of the trial. This trial, which is held under the principle of universal jurisdiction, sets an important precedent, as Syrian officials have so far escaped prosecution for crimes against humanity.
Two days into the court hearings and as part of the Real Talk Series at the Volksbühne Berlin, The Syria Campaign, Families for Freedom, the Volksbühne and Bard College Berlin are co-hosting a discussion with a panel of human rights activists and legal experts about the significance of this trial, the limitations of the principle of universal jurisdiction, and what it will mean in the long term for justice and accountability in Syria.
- Andreas Schüller, the director of the international crimes and accountability program at the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights
- Anwar Albunni, Syrian human rights lawyer and the director of the Center for Legal Research and Studies
- Wafa Moustafa, a Syrian activist and journalist and a member of Families for Freedom
Bente Scheller, the head of Middle East and North Africa Division, Heinrich Böll Stiftung
There will be time for questions, and you are welcome to submit questions in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org