NGOs in Germany file the first lawsuit against Syrian regime over Ghouta and Khan Sheikhoun chemical attacks

KARLSRUHE, Germany – On Tuesday, three non-governmental organizations — Open Society Justice Initiative, Syrian Archive, and Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression — announced that they had filed a lawsuit against the Syrian regime with the Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Karlsruhe, Germany.

The lawsuit relates to a Sarin gas attack in Eastern Ghouta on 21 August 2013 which left, according to the plaintiffs, an estimated 1,200 victims.

A second Sarin gas attack took place on 4 April 2017, in Khan Sheikhoun, and left, according to the plaintiffs, 200 victims.

In a joint statement, the non-governmental organizations declared that, “The lawsuit contains new evidence. Investigation shows that the Syrian government carried out the attacks.”

“The two chemical attacks coincided with bombing nearby medical facilities, which seriously impeded relief operations,” the statement read. “It is time for European prosecutors to investigate the Syrian chemical weapons program and issue arrest warrants against Syrian officials.”

Germany has passed laws establishing “universal jurisdiction” which grants its national courts the authority to investigate and prosecute international crimes committed on foreign territory by foreign nationals.