Syria must be held to account for 'horrific' crimes, say Netherlands

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during an interview in Damascus on March 5, 2020. AFP Photos / SANA

Text by: RFI Follow

2 min

The government of the Netherlands condemns the crimes committed in Syria.

In an unprecedented diplomatic approach, the Netherlands threatens to sue the regime.

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok makes a clear statement: the Assad regime has committed atrocious, overwhelming crimes, and there must be consequences.


Read more

With our correspondent in The Hague

Stéphanie Maupas

It is with a diplomatic note that the Netherlands accuses Syria of human rights violations.

They invoke the Convention on Torture and the obligation for the Damascus regime to stop crimes and provide reparations to victims.

The Hague proposes a negotiation.

If it should fail, which is very likely, the Netherlands offers Syria to go to a Court of Arbitration.

Knowing very well that arbitration requires the agreement of both parties.

But it is unlikely that Damascus will answer them.

The Netherlands are therefore already warning, they will go to an international court, without specifying which one.

Everything seems to indicate that it would be the International Court of Justice, this UN court responsible for settling diplomatic disputes between States.

But to be able to plead before it, it is necessary to have previously exhausted all the means of negotiation.

This is exactly what the Dutch Foreign Ministry is doing with this diplomatic note.

The Dutch approach is part of a wide range of judicial initiatives initiated in the early years of the war in Syria.

So far, the criminal proceedings launched in European countries have never made it possible to target the most senior officials in Damascus.

The International Criminal Court had been put out of play by the Russian veto in the Security Council.


Receive all the international news directly in your mailbox

I subscribe

Follow all the international news by downloading the RFI application


  • Netherlands

  • Syria

  • UN