Name? Bashar al-Assad
Westphalian identity? Syrian
Why is he in the news? Yesterday, the world’s first trial of a senior member of the Syrian military for war crimes began in Germany. Anwar Raslan, a former colonel in the Syrian military, and co-defendant, Eyad al-Gharib, were identified by other refugees as former representatives of the Assad military responsible for torture and abuse.
Why do we care? This is an example of international law and sends an important message to regimes all over the world. Although torture might not be illegal in the Syrian War, it certainly is not legal anywhere else meaning people can be trialled for this anywhere. The trial probably won’t lead Bashar al-Assad to end the civil war in his country tomorrow, but this shows that the international system is not completely toothless.
Why should you care? International Law should concern us all a lot more. It remains one of the more difficult aspects of diplomacy to really carry out but when established, it proves its worth. It’s also kinda in everyone’s interest if any type of evildoer is standing trial. At least we like to think so.
Who else cares? The victims, 26 of which are testifying, will maybe find some justice and peace. Just imagine, you flee 4000 kilometres just to find the regime you are fleeing from sharing a room with you.
Any further comments? Something giving hope to humanity is the attitude Germany has had towards the entire issue. A senior public prosecutor from Germany’s federal supreme court said: “We believe that such crimes against civilians should not go unpunished(…) Our historical responsibility means that we [Germans] must pursue this kind of case, as far as it is possible for us to do so.” Good attitude Germany, good attitude.