WARNING: the images contained herein are graphic in nature and may be disturbing to some readers.
A damning report made by former war crimes prosecutors, coupled with the ghastly torture photos accompanying them, is sure to exponentially raise the pressure against Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in the global community.
The team behind the report, made available exclusively to CNN’s “Amanpour” and UK’s The Guardian, consists of chief prosecutors Sir Desmond de Silva and Professor David M. Crane, responsible for the arrest and indictment of Liberian President Charles Taylor, respectively. They’re joined by Professor Sir Geoffrey Nice, lead prosecutor of ex-President Slobodan Milosevic of the former Yugoslavia.
The full text of the Syria report is available here.
This group, together with their forensic team, was tasked with assessing the credibility of a Syrian defector—identified as “Caesar”— who smuggled photographic evidence—numbering in excess of 55,000 images—of the systematic torture of an estimated 11,000 people, The Guardian reports. The witness responsible for shedding light on this horrendous situation was a military policeman tasked with recording the deaths in Syrian custody between 2011 and 2013, sometimes photographing up to 50 bodies in a single day, reports the Daily Mail.
“This is a smoking gun,” said David Crane via CNN. “Any prosecutor would like this kind of evidence — the photos and the process. This is direct evidence of the regime’s killing machine.”
The photos detail bodies that have been starved and beaten. They are bruised and bloody, with open wounds and indications of ligature strangulation, the form of which is consistent with being used for torture.
In qualifying the war crimes and torture by Taylor, Crane had innumerable bodies but no body of evidence with which to match them. The situation with Syria’s Assad is different.
“In Sierra Leone I had 1.2 million human beings that were destroyed but I could not match them to names and incidents,” Crane said. “Here we have the photographs, the photographer and the reports with documents, stamps, signatures and dates.”
The report details the order of post-mortem operations when a Syrian detainee died, including assignment of a number corresponding to the branch of service responsible, followed by examination by “Caesar,” a doctor, and a member of the Syrian judiciary, after which the doctor completed the appropriate paperwork, and would provide an official death certificate, often with a false cause of death. Then the body received a second number for recording the true cause of death.
“As a prosecutor I have to prove a process,” Crane said via CNN. “And evidence like this, though not unusual, is rare in modern international law.”
How should the international community respond to the torture and war crimes in Syria? What diplomatic process is appropriate for such allegedly damning evidence of torture?