Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/myuhurukenyatta/5818274784HRW releases report on domestic trials and investigations on crimes in Syria: On 2 October 2017, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a 66-page report detailing the various domestic measures in several European countries to address crimes committed in Syria. The report states in particular that Sweden and Germany are the first two countries that have prosecuted and convicted people for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Syria under universal jurisdiction. On 25 September 2017, Sweden, by founding an accused guilty of violating the dignity of a dead body, became the first country to convict a member of the Syrian army for crimes in Syria. In Germany, most of the cases are brought under terrorism charges. HRW emphasized the importance to investigate and prosecute grave international crimes rather than ‘only’ terrorism which could sound like a response to a domestic threat. To create the report, HRW drawn on “interviews with 50 officials and practitioners working on these cases and 45 Syrian refugees in the two countries”. It documents the difficulties faced by the investigators and prosecutors as well as the experience of refugees and asylum seekers with the authorities. According to a fellow at HRW while “other avenues for justice  [are] currently blocked, criminal investigations in Europe are a beacon of hope for victims of crimes in Syria who have nowhere else to turn” and victims expressed their need “to send the message to criminals that they will not escape”. In terms of difficulties, the report states both standard difficulties and ones that are related specifically to Syria. Main challenges appear to be the ongoing conflict in Syria, the absence of access to crime scenes, obtaining information despite fear of retribution, and mistrust of officials. In addition, the report highlights the lack of knowledge from asylum seekers and refugees about “the systems in place to investigate and prosecute grave crimes in Syria, the possibility of their contributing to justice efforts in these countries, or the right of victims to participate in criminal proceedings”. In the report, HRW not only provided recommendations to Germany and Sweden but also to any country considering serious crimes investigations in Syria. For the former, HRW encourages the two countries authorities to offer adequate war crimes units and to consider “new ways to work with Syrian refugees and asylum seekers on their territory through outreach and public information efforts”. (HRW website)