Dutch prosecution of torture case against Syria sparks terror accusations from Damascus

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The reprimand comes a day after the Dutch government said it seeks to hold the Syrian government accountable for widespread human rights violations under international law, including the United Nations Convention against Torture.

“The Assad regime has committed horrific crimes time and time again. The evidence is overwhelming. There must be consequences, ”Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website.

Blok said the Syrian government was informed of the decision through a diplomatic note, which called on Damascus to end human rights violations and provide reparations to the victims.

“International organizations have repeatedly reported serious human rights violations for years. Many Syrians have been tortured, murdered, forcibly disappeared and subjected to poison gas attacks, or have lost everything while fleeing for their lives, ”the Dutch government statement said.

The Dutch government has called on Syria to start negotiations, saying this was “a necessary first step in settling the disputes”.

The offer of negotiations seems unlikely to be accepted by Damascus, which, through its foreign ministry, responded to the announcement by accusing the Dutch government of funding and supporting militant groups in Syria.

If the two countries are unable to resolve the dispute, the Netherlands can submit the case to arbitration, and if no agreement is reached, they will take the case to an international tribunal, according to the statement. Dutch.

In a statement, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said that the Netherlands’ action “is nothing more than a maneuver to cover up the scandals of this regime and a desperate attempt to get it right. could not thanks to its support for terrorist organizations in Syria ”.

The Dutch government has said that around 200,000 Syrian civilians have died in the civil war in Syria since 2011 and that around 100,000 are missing.

Syrian hospitals where people with Covid-19 wait for more to die before they can be put on ventilators

About 5.6 million Syrians have fled the country since 2011, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and some 6.6 million people are internally displaced.

Balkees Jarrah, deputy director of international justice at Human Rights Watch, praised the Netherlands decision.

“All those, especially governments, who have been appalled by the widespread brutality documented in Syria should publicly welcome this step and explore similar means to assert the rule of law,” Jarrah said in a statement on Friday.

Taylor Barnes of CNN in Atlanta and Eyad Kurdi in Gaziantep, Turkey, contributed to this report.

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