Toby Cadman, founder of Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers was interviewed for the Lebanese The Daily Star’s article “Syria’s war criminals finally feeling the heat”, published on 21st April 2017.
During his interview, Mr. Cadman discussed the characteristics of the criminal complaint that Guernica 37 filed against nine members of the Syrian security forces on behalf of a Spanish victim, whose brother was illegally detained, forcefully disappeared, tortured and executed in a regime-controlled detention center.
He highlighted the challenges and the complexity of prosecuting international crimes following the principle of Universal Jurisdiction, and noted that this type of criminal cases takes a very long time to investigate. According to Mr. Cadman, they needed to have documents that established a state practice, state policy, and so they have effectively been investigating this case now “for the past two and a half [to] three years”.
With regards to the possibilities to hold a trial against the accused in a national jurisdiction, Toby Cadman clarified first, that his Chambers are not interested in holding trials in absentia, as this type of proceedings often fail to offer the victims any true justice; and second, that even if these international cases bring hope to the victims and constitute credible mechanisms to fight against impunity, the main future priority is to pursue justice in Syria: “The greatest burden of these cases is not going to fall on national courts in Europe or an international tribunal, it’s going to fall on Syria”. Nevertheless, regardless of the particular jurisdiction that leads these accountability processes, as one victim pointed out “We will never give up until we see war criminals punished”.