We know who created Syria’s torture programme and how

Nerma Jelacic

After 12 years of civil war, hundreds of thousands of people killed and tens of thousands missing, a glimmer of hope for the Syrian people came from the world’s top court. On November 16, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that the Syrian state must prevent torture of detainees and refrain from destroying evidence of these unlawful acts.

The order was part of ongoing proceedings against Syria for violations of the Convention against Torture which were launched in June after referral by Canada and the Netherlands.

Scepticism about the Syrian government’s willingness to comply with this ruling is indeed justified. However, even if it continues to destroy documentation about its torture programme, enough evidence exposing these atrocities has already been gathered.

Many activists and civil society organisations have unwaveringly documented the human rights abuses suffered by innocent civilians over the past 12 years. Our organisation, the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA) has been part of this painstaking journey since 2011.

Over the past decade, CIJA investigators have unearthed a staggering trove of more than 1.3 million pages of regime-issued documents. They reveal a story of unhinged power and brutal measures the Syrian regime would resort to in order to maintain its iron grip on power.

Documents like these will help the next phase of the ICJ proceedings, as the parties prepare for the presentation of evidence.

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