Building the national capacities for the implementation of fair trials in Syria
While hundreds of thousands have lost their lives and millions have fled the country, the bloody situation in Syria is still escalating causing more losses with no visible near term solution. The violence is not only shattering Syria’s present, it is also destroying its future. Evidences of systematic violations of human rights in Syria are being daily documented. Such violations come after decades of repression and lack of empowered state institutions, including courts.
Referring the Syrian case to the International Criminal Court remains impossible at the moment for several reasons including the decisive opposition of permanent members of the UN Security Council. Moreover, the possibility of establishing a special international court for the crimes committed in Syria is also not feasible for the same obstacles and challenges.
Whereas many Western countries did not respond to the demand of giving their national courts the power to tackle the cases of the crimes against humanity committed in Syria, the commission of inquiry related to the Human Rights Council has refused to present the results of its investigations in the country and didn’t designate any defendants.
Due to the all perversely mentioned challenges, Justice appears to be one of the most weak current characters of the situation in Syria allowing impunity and encouraging perpetrators to commit more crimes with no respect to all international conventions on the protection of human rights.
The call for justice and condemning human rights violations as well as holding the perpetrators accountable is very necessary not only in order to emphasize the importance of the rule of law in imposing fair sanctions and recourse the families of the victims, but also to allow for a new civil peace movement in the country in order to lead the transition towards a safe democratic society while putting frustration, tension and extremism aside and also standing in the face of indiscriminate revenge which will lead to complete destruction of the Syrian community.
In response to the current challenges and complexity, the team of the Syrian Center for Legal Researches and Studies have designed a plan to create a special public court for Syria in order to respond to the currents complex unfair situations while guaranteeing an open door for a post conflict reconciliation and wide-ranging transitional justice process.
The court seat will be either in Turkey or in the Hague, and it will be composed of international judges and lawyers of recognized competence and integrity as well as of Syrian judges and lawyers to be trained on the mechanisms of International trials.
The goal of this court is not only to open the files of international serious crimes committed in Syria in front of public opinion in order to hear the truth but also to allow the voice of the victims to be heard through public trials according to the international criminal law and the due processes of the International Criminal Court. The project also aims at building the capacity of Syrian national legal experts through a comprehensive practical training package which will enable them to lead a transitional justice process in the future.
Through this project, the team of the Syrian Center for Legal Researches and Studies seek to achieve the following goals:
Build the capacity of a national team of Syrian committed judges and lawyers on international laws and due procedures of international trials with full transparency and in front of public opinion and the Media.
Send a clear message to the victims that justice will be achieved and that their rights will not be forgotten. Such a message is crucial to relieve tension and control revenge.
Send a clear message to the perpetrators of the crimes against humanity in Syria that they will not be any time away from prosecution and punishment.
The project composes of:
Two investigation rooms, each has an international judge and two Syrian judges responsible for opening primarily cases, compiling evidence, hearing witnesses and preparing the files in order to be referred to the Court.
A court body composed of five judges, including two international judges and three Syrians responsible for reviewing the cases referred by the investigation body.
composed of an international judge and four Syrians Office of the Prosecutor lawyers.
Office of the Defense composed of an international judge and four Syrians lawyers.
Administrative staff (Ten employees) responsible for the non-judicial aspects of the administration and servicing of the Court.
A Project Manager.
two-storey building with a total area of 500 square meters.
• Phase I
o preparation of the national staff of the Syrian and through a series of training workshops
• Phase II
o Practical application through the trials processes including reviewing the evidences and hearing the witnesses
The project will run for a period ranging between three to five years depending on developments of the situation in Syria.
President of the Syrian Center for Legal Researches