Syrian victims seek justice against their torturers


Khaled Rawas was arrested in 2011 in Damascus and accused of participating in political demonstrations against the Government. During his detention, he was beaten and forced to sign a confession under torture.

Portrait of Khaled Rawas, survivor of torture in Syria. © Pierre Albouy/OHCHR“What is happening in my country in not a first in history; I thought that we had learned from past mistakes, but unfortunately we didn’t,” he says.

Rawas managed to flee persecution in Syria and, after crossing the borders of and living in five countries, he finally found refuge in Germany in 2015. There, Rawas was able to find employment in his trade and started working again as a mechanical engineer.

Today, he is one of 22 complainants who are bringing their criminal complaint against 27 high-ranking officials of the Syrian Arab Republic to the German Federal Prosecutor. The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), an organization based in Berlin and supported by the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, is helping Rawas and his fellow complainants seek justice for the harm suffered in their country.

“Filing our case in Germany was the only option we had. We couldn’t bring a complaint to an international court,” he explains. “The German courts allowed us, although we are not Germans but Syrians, to prosecute at the level of the Federal Court. We were allowed to take action, which is exactly what we need: action.”

After submitting their case, Rawas and his 21 fellow survivors were able to give testimonies on their ordeal.

Rawas believes that civil society organizations and the international community should work together to mend a failing system.

“We are talking about something bigger than Syria. It is not only about Syria, it is about saving the humanity inside all of us. I want to represent those who don’t have a voice in the media. I don’t want justice in 30 years, I want justice now,” he says passionately.

2 May 2018

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