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International organizations condemn the French judiciary’s decision challenging the arrest warrant against Bashar al-Assad and his brother

Human rights, Syrian, and international organizations criticized the French judiciary’s decision challenging the validity of the arrest warrant issued in mid-November 2023 against Bashar al-Assad, his brother Maher, and two senior officials, citing that he is a head of state and enjoys immunity.

The organizations’ condemnation came in a joint statement in which they opposed the decision, and stressed that the arrest orders for other officials will not be appealed and will remain in effect.

The statement pointed out that recent decades saw the erosion of the immunity enjoyed by presidents, the immunities of states and functional immunities under international law to prevent impunity for international crimes.

The statement said, “It is time to challenge the personal immunity of the Assad regime with regard to international crimes,” pointing out that “in the context of the Syrian chemical attacks, the international community and the United Nations Security Council have repeatedly called for all perpetrators to be held accountable.”

The organizations pointed out in their statement that “ongoing impunity for these crimes only perpetuates the cycle of violence and suffering for victims and survivors, and undermines the rule of international law.”

According to the statement, the court’s decision contradicts France’s firm position, which demands that all perpetrators of chemical attacks in Syria be held accountable.

The statement urged organizations in France to confirm their support for an independent judicial investigation into all those responsible for the attacks, including Bashar al-Assad.

The statement also called on the French government to “make clear that it does not recognize Bashar al-Assad’s immunity for his role in the chemical weapons attacks, and for France’s commitment to be firm.”

The organizations concluded their statement by saying that justice for victims, survivors and their families will only be achieved through support for the French investigation and prosecution, and concerted international efforts to implement French arrest orders.

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