Judgment of Koblenz: international justice, finally, shows its teeth

It is a day filled with emotion, relief, but also anger and tears. By sentencing a Syrian torturer to life imprisonment, the German court in Koblenz did not just say the law. It also sends a powerful message to the Syrians. It is the first time that they have seen a dignitary from their country thus forced to pay for his acts, and suffering international opprobrium.

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Read about it: Historic condemnation in Germany of a former Syrian leader

Former Colonel Anwar Raslan, a refugee in Germany since 2014, was found guilty of deciding in Syria the deaths of at least 27 people, supervising thousands of acts of torture, sexual violence, kidnappings, degrading treatment. His personal villainies have contributed to making “Section 251” of the Syrian secret police one of the great horrors of this world. But the evidence shines through every line of the verdict of German justice: behind these crimes against humanity, it is the Syrian regime which reveals its nature, consubstantially criminal.

Warning to executioners

We must welcome this condemnation, the progress of international justice that it reflects, and the warning it issues to executioners and their superiors, in Syria and elsewhere: no border should protect those guilty of crimes of this magnitude. Likewise, the hard work of the Syrian victims themselves and of the organizations that have gathered evidence and financial resources, but also the courage of the witnesses who sometimes risked endangering the fate of their loved ones are in every way admirable.

Also read: “The life sentence of a Syrian colonel in Germany will strengthen universal jurisdiction”

However, the crimes in Syria continue to continue at this very moment. Enough to further relativize this “historic” success of justice: after more than ten years of war, the regime of Bashar al-Assad is in the accelerated process of diplomatic “normalization”, in a country where a large part of the population does not. can aspire only to survive on a daily basis. Even more serious, perhaps: Syrian refugees drown in the Mediterranean (like others: Afghans, Iraqis, Somalis, etc.), froze to death on the Polish border or were piled up in total destitution in Idlib, a Syrian region that Damascus does not control, so long has Europe decided to turn its back on this tragedy.

A torturer in Geneva

It’s almost a fable: Anwar Raslan, this torturer of Bashar al-Assad, was even part of the Geneva discussions on Syria. Photos show him at Cointrin airport in 2014, with a duty free bag on his feet, almost seeming to be enjoying himself internally by playing such a trick on the international community. International justice has finally shown that it has teeth and can bite. But politics, for its part, still have a lot to do to demonstrate consistency and determination in the face of infamy.

Reread: International justice, the only recourse for “abandoned” Syrians

Find all editorials of “Temps”.

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