In January 2017, The Guernica Centre in alliance with G37 Despacho Internacional, filed before the Spanish National Court, the first criminal complaint ever brought against Syrian military leaders for the commission of international crimes during the armed conflict.
Guernica acted on behalf of Mrs. A.H., a victim of Spanish nationality, whose brother was arbitrarily detained, forcibly disappeared, tortured and executed in 2013 in a detention centre in Damascus. Even though in March 2017, Judge Velasco admitted the criminal complaint, the Spanish National Court subsequently ruled that Spanish Courts lack jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute the crimes committed in Syria. Our legal team maintains that this decision ignored international and European law regulating the concept of victim, and is in contravention of the victim’s right to access a Court of Law. Consequently, The Guernica Centre has filed an application for amparo before the Spanish Constitutional Court, where the case is pending.
Simultaneously, through its partner organization Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers, based in London, legal counsel is advising the family of Dr. Abbas Khan, a British orthopedic surgeon who travelled to Syria to treat civilian victims and was executed by members of the Syrian Security Forces following a year of being imprisoned and subjected to torture. The case is currently in an exploratory/investigative phase, available evidence is being assessed to determine whether a request can be made to the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command to open a criminal investigation into his death.
In July 2018, The Guernica Centre built a detailed curriculum and a manual to train Syrian judges and prosecutors in exile on accountability and international justice strategies and subsequently provided their training, having been specifically selected for this task by the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute in London.
Furthermore, following the decision of the International Criminal Court regarding its jurisdiction over crimes committed by Myanmar against the Rohingya in Bangladesh, The Guernica Centre employed the logic established in this decision to file on March 1, 2019 a communication with the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to open a Preliminary Examination into crimes against humanity committed by the Syrian Regime.