Advocacy update

NGOs Challenge Sweden's Proposal for an ISIS-only War Crimes Tribunal

Joint Letter to Government of Sweden Download the 2-page document. 2 Pages, 630.28 Kb, PDF Download
June 3, 2019
Office of Communications
+1 212-548-0378

Seven Syrian and European rights and law groups, including the Open Society Justice Initiative, have written to the government of Sweden to express their reservations about proposals to set up an international tribunal exclusively focused on crimes committed during Syria's civil war by members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

In their letter, delivered on June 3, 2019, the seven organizations say they "advise against designing any accountability mechanism whose purpose is to deal only with crimes perpetrated by one faction in a conflict".

"ISIS is responsible for horrific atrocities, and it is important that there be accountability for these. However, if a mechanism were designed to overlook atrocities committed by other actors in the conflict, its credibility and legitimacy would suffer greatly, as would chances for reconciliation and efforts to engender the concept of a neutral judiciary."

Sweden convened a meeting of government officials from the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, France, and other countries in Stockholm on June 3, to discuss the idea of an ISIS-focused tribunal, based in Iraq.

The letter is signed by: Civil Rights Defenders; European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights; Syrian Center for Legal Studies & Researches; Center for Justice & Accountability; Open Society Justice Initiative; Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression; and Syria Justice and Accountability Centre.  

All seven groups are involved in efforts to bring to justice the perpetrators of atrocity crimes in Syria and elsewhere, including through prosecutions in European and U.S. national courts. The letter notes the important role that civil society groups play in accountability efforts, and the need to draw on the expertise of local groups, while urging Sweden to engage with civil society groups on the issues.

Related Work

Get In Touch

Contact Us

Subscribe for Updates About Our Work

By entering your email address and clicking “Submit,” you agree to receive updates from the Open Society Justice Initiative about our work. To learn more about how we use and protect your personal data, please view our privacy policy.