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Guernica Calls on the International Community to Ensure Sanctioned Syrian Businessman Faces Justice

LONDON, 4 May 2020 – Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers calls on the international community to ensure that Rami Makhlouf, the cousin and close aide of Bashar al Assad, suspected of currently being in the United Arab Emirates, faces justice for aiding and abetting the crimes of the Syrian Regime as part of its nine year armed attack on the Syrian civilian population.

Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of the Syrian President, who has financially supported the Syrian Regime and is alleged to be complicit in the crimes of the Syrian State Intelligence and Security Forces, is alleged to be part of a joint criminal enterprise that is headed by the Syrian President and is carried out by a network of supporters within the Regime intelligence branches, is suspected in currently being in the United Arab Emirates, despite having been sanctioned by the United States Treasury and European Union for staggering public corruption on a truly staggering scale and for having bankrolled the brutal destruction of the pro-democracy revolution since 2011. According to the U.S. Treasury he has used intimidation and close ties to Assad to take control of public funds and the corruption in Syria, of which he is alleged to be a central figure, has a deeply corrosive and destabilising effect.

During the past nine years of conflict the world has been a spectator to the mass human rights violations being committed with appalling frequency; from allegations of chemical attacks, to the use of indiscriminate military tactics, such as barrel bombs, to the deliberate targeting of civilians, schools and medical staff, leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians. During that time, more than half a million Syrians have been killed in the conflict, over a million have been severely injured, and over 12 million have been displaced, either internally, or externally in other countries. It is important to emphasise that more than half the pre-war population have either been killed, disappeared or have been forced to leave their homes. A significant proportion of those that were forced to flee, forced due to circumstances outside of their control as a result of the brutal conduct of the Syrian State Intelligence and Security Forces and have not been able to return for the very same reasons that forced them to leave.

Tens of thousands have been imprisoned, tortured, and murdered, at the hands of the Syrian regime.

Rami Makhlouf is believed to have been a very important part of that process and has willingly seen the destruction of entire communities in Syria and the brutal killing of several hundred thousand innocent civilians.

The recent trial in Germany demonstrates that the wheels of international justice have finally started to turn and those persons who have been part of a brutal machine that has destroyed the democratic ideology of an entire population will face justice. However, it is not enough to seek to investigate and prosecute a small group of individuals as and when an opportunity may arise and the international community and its already developed mechanisms owe a duty to the millions of Syrian victims.

Rami Makhlouf has now publicly released two recorded videos, published on what appears to be his official Facebook page. In his most recent recording he states:

Would have someone expected that the security apparatus would target the companies of Rami Makhlouf, who was their biggest supporter, their major servant, and their largest sponsor during the war.

This statement, made by a member of the inner circle that are alleged to have aided and abetted the crimes of the Assad regime and has funded a brutal affront, is a clear admission of support to the Regime’s State Intelligence and Security Sector, a sector which is responsible for a catalogue of war crimes, crimes against humanity, including systematic torture and mass execution of civilians. There is detailed and highly credible evidence of such systematic practices of the state intelligence and security sector in Syria by UN agencies, international and Syrian human rights NGOs, and are now featuring in the trial of a senior security official in Germany.

Since its establishment, assisting in the documentation process torture in Syria to ensure that there is a process of truth, justice and accountability has been one of the principle focus areas of Guernica’s work.

It is an established principle of international law, that a person can be held responsible for committing, planning, ordering, or instigating a crime or for otherwise aiding and abetting in the commission of a crime. This includes providing financial and other forms of assistance in the commission of international crimes. This concept has been long been accepted by international tribunals since the International Military Tribunals in Nuremberg and Tokyo, through the ad hoc tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, to the first permanent International Criminal Court in The Hague. It has also been mirrored in a range of domestic jurisdictions.

Guernica 37 along with its Syrian and international partners, will be considering the most appropriate legal action against Rami Makhlouf and his companies.

We call on the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with whom Makhlouf has long standing links, to honour its international treaty obligations and not to allow its territory to be used a safe haven for those persons accused of supporting the most egregious crimes known to man.

It has been said that Rami Makhlouf, as with many of the closest associates of Bashar al Assad, has lived in a heavily guarded and luxurious Ivory Tower at the expense of millions of Syrians who have given their lives for the democratic freedoms that we all take for granted. It is clear that the Ivory Tower is starting to crumble and when it does, we must clear the dust and ensure that those persons who fall, do not walk away with their ill-gotten wealth, but face justice for the crimes they are alleged to have committed with the most flagrant disregard for life and the most brazen display of impunity.


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