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Netherlands, Canada take Syria to world court over torture claims

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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -The Netherlands and Canada are taking Syria to the World Court over torture claims, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) said on Monday.

In their application, Canada and the Netherlands claim that “Syria has committed countless violations of International law, beginning at least in 2011,” and asked for emergency measures to be taken to protect those at risk of being tortured, the ICJ, also known as the World Court, said in a statement.

They are seeking to hold the government of President Bashar al-Assad accountable for gross human rights violations and torture under the U.N. Convention against Torture, which Damascus ratified in 2004. 

If the court finds it has jurisdiction, the ICJ would be the first international court to be able to make a legal finding on the alleged state use of torture in Syria.

Canada and the Netherlands decided to act in 2020 after Russia blocked multiple efforts in the United Nations Security Council to refer a case on human rights violations in Syria to the International Criminal Court, which prosecutes individuals for war crimes and is also based in The Hague.

(Reporting by Bart Meijer, Charlotte Van Campenhout; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Paul Simao)

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