The Documentation of Enforced disappearance Project
Despite the staggering number of Syrians subject to enforced disappearance since the beginning of the Syrian uprising in March 2011, it came to our knowledge at the Syria Legal Network/NL that the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary disappearances has documented less than 300 people. As we and all Syrians know, there are tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Syrians who are and were subject to enforced disappearance since 2011. We believe that it is important to contribute to establishing the truth about these disappearances and translate this into practical application. We thus have taken the initiative to introduce the subject of documenting cases of people subject to enforced disappearance among the Syrian diaspora in the Netherlands, and to document the cases of disappeared people whom we personally know, or know of through our extended network.
Considering our close rapport with refugees in the Netherlands and other European countries, as well as our close contact with large segments of refugees and displaced Syrians inside Syria and the neighbouring countries, we seek to work with relevant international organizations to document cases of enforced disappearance. This will result in Syrians breaking their fear and contribute, and enabling them to report their friends and/or siblings subject to enforced disappearance. This will also result in creating a database that documents the details of these individuals. Consequently, we hope that this will be the foundation to seek reparations and compensation, as well as the prosecution of perpetrators – on behalf of the victims who were subject to crimes punishable under domestic and international laws.
With this in mind, Syria Legal Network/NL invites you all to contribute to this project by providing information on individuals you know and are subject to enforced disappearance. Please click here to access the form in English, knowing that this form is owned by the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances on enforced disappearances.
Our team of Syrian lawyers, students, experts and researchers in the field of human rights and international humanitarian law will be involved in these cases. Syria Legal Network takes your confidentiality and privacy very seriously. Therefore, the documentation process, at all stages, shall maintain strict adherence to ethics and code of conduct policies that are observed and utilised by relevant international organisations.
Should you have queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Download the form from here.
Syria Legal Network
Documentation of Enforced Disappearances Team
CAPACITY BUILDING AND TRAINING
The capacity building and training program aims at training Syrian lawyers in international law and transitional justice mechanisms, war reparations and documentation methods and initiatives. Our training activities include lectures by academics and practitioners, visits to international courts and tribunals, and participation in specialized courses organized by institutions in and outside the Netherlands.
We work with international practitioners and specialists from the academic and NGO communities. Lecturers include staff of the Law Faculty of the University of Amsterdam (UvA), the War Reparations Centre (UvA), the Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD/UvA), the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences (UvA), the T.M.C. Asser Institute for International Law (UvA), the Law Faculty of the VU-University (Amsterdam), the Law Faculty of Leiden University, the American University of Paris, the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the Special Court for Lebanon, Amnesty International, Medécins sans Frontières, and the Syria Justice and Accountability Center.
II. The Afrin research project was proposed by one of the ICL students (Florian Schoeler) on the question whether Turkey committed an act of aggression when it attacked Afrin in beginning of 2018. The students formulated the research questions:
– Did the Turkish political and/or military leadership commit the Crime of Aggression? Especially considering the autonomous nature of the DNFS opposed to the central Syrian government.
– In what way did the applicable law for the Syrian conflict change through the Turkish incursion? A mostly academic question, it will analyse the effect of the change of the nature of the Syrian conflict into an international armed conflict. Further guiding questions are as to the scope of the change in law in both territorial and subjective ways as well as the concrete change in applicable law.
– What international crimes, if any, has the Turkish military committed during the course of this campaign? In the course of this aspect we will examine in detail if the Turkish military has forcibly displaced civilian populations, if it has used force indiscriminately, if cultural property was destroyed by Turkish forces and if there have been targeted attacks against civilians.
III. Expropriation legislation project PAX: PAX requested WRC to cooperate on the editing of a report on Syrian legislation on the expropriation of property, put together by members of Syria Legal Network and to provide PAX with English native speaking students to assist in editing report. 2 ICL students are assisting PAX in this project.
SPECIALIZED COURSES IN AND OUTSIDE THE NETHERLANDS
We cooperate with institutions that offer summer university courses on international law, transitional justice, war reparations, human rights, international criminal law and international humanitarian law, including the International Nuremberg Principles Academy (Germany), the Grotius Center of Leiden University (The Hague, Netherlands), the Salzburg Law School (Austria) and the Geoffrey Nice Foundation (Netherlands/Croatia).
This collection of legal materials aims to provide students, researchers, lawyers and activists with the sources needed to understand the international legal framework that is relevant to the armed conflict in Syria. The Reader includes the basic documents of international public law, international criminal law and humanitarian law. It contains the most important decisions and resolutions of the United Nations in relation to the armed conflict in Syria. The collection offers legal guidance to anyone interested in formulating an international justice response to violations of international law in Syria.
Ten Legal Questions: the war in Syria explained in the framework of international law (English and Arabic)
In this report, the authors clarify some of the most basic questions on how international law applies to the current conflict in Syria. In ten concise chapters, it is explained how one should understand the legal framework of the armed conflict in Syria and why the legal framing matters. Topics include: justifications for intervention, chemical weapons, sieges and population transfers, the position of humanitarian organizations and the media and accountability for international crimes. The report is available in both English and Arabic.
Forced displacements in Homs (2013-2017), charging president Al Assad for crimes against humanity and war crimes
This report examines the relevant legal framework for attributing responsibility to Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad for the crime of forcibly displacing civilians from the city of Homs. The report consists of two parts. The first part summarizes the facts of the forced displacements that took place between 2013 and 2017 in Homs’ suburb Al Waer. The information is based on the quarterly Siege Watch reports that have been published by PAX and the Syria Institute since 2016. The second part presents a model indictment against Bashar Al-Assad alleging his criminal responsibility for the crime of forced displacement and for crimes that took place in the context of the forced displacements. Syria Legal Network-NL hopes that the report will contribute to clarifying the role of the Syrian government regarding the forced displacements of civilians.
The reports were drafted by lawyers of the Syria Legal Network-NL in cooperation with students of the University of Amsterdam Law Faculty and interns of the War Reparations Centre and the Nuhanovic Foundation.