The Netherlands, Canada file torture case against Syria at the Int’l Court of Justice

The Netherlands and Canada are taking Syria to the International Court of Justice in The Hague on accusations that Syria committed numerous violations of international law. This specifically concerns violations of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the court said in a statement released on Monday.

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the Netherlands and Canada filed the case with the UN court on June 8. The ministry said on Monday that it has been trying for more than two years to reach a settlement with Syria through negotiations. “These negotiations have not led to a solution.”

Several years ago, the Netherlands said it held the Syrian regime formally liable for human rights violations. Canada joined that procedure in 2021. Since 2011, the Syrian regime has allegedly suppressed civilian demonstrations by force. Later, a bloody civil war broke out in the country, in which chemical weapons were also allegedly used.

“Syrian citizens have been tortured, murdered, disappeared, attacked with poison gas or forced to flee for their lives and leave behind everything they had,” Foreign Affairs Minister Wopke Hoekstra said in a statement. “These large-scale atrocities have been reported on extensively by international organisations.”

An attempt has already been made to refer the case to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Russia blocked that move in the UN Security Council. Russia is the main ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who managed to survive as leader during the years of conflict in his country thanks in large part to Russian military aid.

The Netherlands said that Syria has been informed by the Netherlands’ Permanent Representation to the UN in Geneva about the case before the International Court of Justice. There, Syria is required to “comply with the obligations under the UN Anti-Torture Convention to which the country is also a party.”

Reporting by ANP

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