Dutch and Canadians take Syria to court over torture programme

view of aleppo city from the citadel in syria

The Netherlands and Canada have filed a case against Syria at the International Court of Justice, claiming Damascus has committed widespread human rights violations during the country’s civil war in violation of a UN treaty against torture.

The Hague-based court announced it has received the filing on Monday, more than two years after the Dutch informed the government of Bashar al-Assad that it intended to move forward with bringing Syria to account under the United Nations Convention against Torture.

The treaty requires countries to engage in mediation before moving on to legal proceedings.

‚ÄúSyrian civilians have been tortured, murdered, disappeared, attacked with poison gas or lost everything when they fled for their lives,” foreign affairs minister Wopke Hoekstra said in a statement.

The Dutch announced in 2020 that they were initiating proceedings under the convention. Canada joined in 2021.

The complaint asks for the court to grant provisional measures, telling Syria to protect people at risk of torture and to put an end to torture that has been widespread since the conflict broke out.

The Netherlands and Syria have not had diplomatic relations since 2011.

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