Last Wednesday, November 15, the French judiciary issued four international “arrest warrants” against the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, and three others on charges of complicity in crimes against humanity. These charges stem from sarin gas attacks in 2013 that resulted in the deaths of over 1,400 people in Douma and Eastern Ghouta. While they are the first time arrest warrants have directly targeted Bashar al-Assad, along with his brother Maher and two other high-ranking officials, they are not the first time France has advocated holding Assad and his regime to account.
The following day, November 16, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivered its verdict on the request made by Canada and The Netherlands to indicate provisional measures on the Syrian regime. The ICJ ordered the Syrian Arab Republic to take all measures within its power to prevent acts of torture and ensure the preservation of evidence related to allegations of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. This binding order was supported by a majority of 13 votes, with two votes against Russia’s ICJ Vice President and China’s ICJ Judge.
The human rights group, Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), which has been actively involved in providing data and evidence for the legal proceedings, was cited as a source of evidence 14 times in the court session’s transcript, emphasizing its role in bringing attention to human rights violations in Syria.
These legal actions represent significant steps towards holding the Assad regime accountable for its alleged crimes against humanity and human rights violations. The international community’s support for these legal proceedings underscores the global commitment to justice and accountability in the face of grave human rights abuses.
The recent legal actions against the Assad regime demonstrate a concerted effort by the international community to address the alleged atrocities committed in Syria. As these legal proceedings unfold, the world watches closely to see how justice will be served for the victims of these heinous crimes.