Hague, 12 June 2023 (TDI): In a united front, Canada and the Kingdom of the Netherlands have taken a significant step towards seeking justice for alleged violations committed by the Syrian Arab Republic.

On 8 June 2023, the two countries jointly filed an application instituting proceedings against Syria before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.

The application pertains to the alleged violations of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

In their application, Canada and the Netherlands assert that Syria had committed numerous violations of international law since at least 2011, when the nation’s violent repression of civilian demonstrations began.

The situation in Syria subsequently deteriorated into a protracted armed conflict. The alleged violations include the use of torture, cruel and inhuman treatment, inhumane conditions in detention centers, enforced disappearances, sexual and gender-based violence, violence against children, and the abhorrent use of chemical weapons, resulting in death, injuries, and severe physical and mental suffering.

Canada and the Netherlands invoke Article 36, paragraph 1, of the Statute of the Court and Article 30, paragraph 1, of the Convention against Torture, to establish the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.

Alongside the application, Canada and the Netherlands have also submitted a Request for the indication of provisional measures. Pursuant to Article 41 of the Statute of the Court and Articles 73, 74, and 75 of the Rules of Court, the request seeks to preserve and protect the rights owed to both countries under the Convention against Torture.

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It further aims to safeguard the lives and physical and mental well-being of individuals in Syria who are currently subjected to, or at risk of, torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

The Request for the indication of provisional measures holds precedence over all other cases, as specified in Article 74 of the Rules of Court.

It is noteworthy that all three parties involved— Canada, the Netherlands, and Syria —are signatories to the Convention.