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World: The Court of Cassation blocks the prosecution of a former soldier of the Syrian regime

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Abdulhamid C. était suspecté d’avoir aidé à identifier et à arrêter des participants à des manifestations, comme ici Alep en 2012. Certains avaient ensuite été torturés dans des prisons du régime. © Achilleas Zavallis Abdulhamid C. was suspected of having helped to identify and arrest participants in events, as here Aleppo in 2012. Some had then been tortured in prisons of the regime.

This is the first concrete application of a law adopted in August 2010, despite the opposition of human rights defenders. In a decision on November 24, the Court of Cassation stated that justice could not prosecute for "complicity of crimes against humanity" a former Syrian soldier present on French soil. "This stop does not constitute a surprise. The Court of Cassation applied the law and the extremely restrictive conditions that the French legislator wanted. What had happened happened ", explains the lawyer of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), Clemence Betarte.

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The highest French court examined the case of Abdulhamid C., 32 years old, which had served in the state security services of Damascus, known for violently repressing the demonstrations against the bachar regime al- Assad. Reservist, Abdulhamid C. exercised between 2011 and 2013, before the civil war illuminates. He was suspected of having helped identify and stop protesters who were then tortured in plan prisons.

Principle of "double incrimination"

clandestinely entered France in 2015, he had obtained refugee status in November 2018, before being arrested a year later. Placed in pre-trial detention, he had been released in February 2020 but remained continued. The Court of Cassation did not spoke on the merits of the case, it is not its role. On the other hand, it has estimated that the principle of "double incrimination" was not respected: the crime of "complicity of crimes against humanity" is not recognized in Syria, it could not be retained in France against a Syrian soldier. Syria has not signed the Treaty of Rome, which created the International Criminal Court.

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This provision is included in the law of 9 August 2010, which transposes into French law the status of Rome and allows to launch prosecutions in France against the assumed authors of "war crimes", "crimes against humanity" and "genocide committed abroad".

Diplomatic relations

Except that several NGOs of human rights, including FIDH and Amnesty International, consider that the criteria selected are too restrictive. In addition to that of "double incrimination" is the requirement of "habitual residence" ; Clearly, the alleged perpetrator must live in France, a mere passage in the country is not enough.

The French authorities, both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Elysée, fear that a modification of the law is harmful to diplomatic relations by provoking a multiplication of complaint deposits, including leaders from allied countries. The Ministry of Justice estimates that the current law fully respects international law.

The day Abdelhamid C. was arrested in France, two other Syrians, former members of the intelligence services, were arrested in Germany. End of February, the one of them was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for "Complicity of crimes against humanity". "It is contradictory to say against the impunity of the Syrian regime, as France does, and to support this law, explains Clemence BECTARTE. We are facing a lack of political will. "

A former Chinese soldier turned artist explains how a song on Radio Australia changed his life .
When Chinese-Australian artist Jian Guo joined the People's Liberation Army during the peak of the Sino-Vietnamese War, he and his comrades used to listen to Radio Australia illegally. That's how he heard the song that changed his life.The then-17-year-old was patrolling the base one night when he saw a group of fellow People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers tuning radio equipment on the back of a truck.

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