On Monday, March 4th, 2019, The Guernica Centre for International Justice filed an investigative report with the International Criminal Court on forced deportation in Syria. On Thursday, March 7th, 2019, Rodney Dixon QC, of London’s Temple Garden Chambers, lead a group of lawyers to file evidence against the Syrian regime on behalf of 28 Syrian victims who have been forced over the border into Jordan.
Since the ICC does not have jurisdiction over crimes committed in Syria, President Bashar Al Assad’s regime has enjoyed impunity from the repercussions of the atrocities enacted during the country's bloody civil war. However, Guernica co-founder and international human rights lawyer Toby Cadman has argued a precedent set last year in a case involving the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar can be used to give The Hague-based court jurisdiction over at least part of the devastating Syrian conflict.
Though Myanmar is not a member of the court, Bangladesh is. In the previous ruling, ICC judges said that because Muslim Rohingya people were driven from Myanmar into Bangladesh the court has jurisdiction. Atrocities committed by government forces in Syria forced about a million civilians to flee into Jordan and the threat of more mistreatment if they return is preventing them from returning home. The focus of this case will be on the top leadership, including President Bashar al Assad, making it one of the first cases of its kind.
Dixon added at Thursday’s press conference: “This case represents a genuine breakthrough for the Syrian victims. There is a jurisdictional gateway that has opened up finally for the ICC prosecutor to investigate the perpetrators who are most responsible.”
In a written response, the ICC prosecutor's office confirmed it had received the filing and said it will analyze the material.
"As soon as we reach a decision on the appropriate next step, we will inform the sender and provide reasons for our decision," the office said.
Middle East Monitor