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Podcast: The arrest, detention, and torture of health workers by the Syrian government

Panel discusses findings of the Physicians for Human Rights report at Centre for Fundamental Rights event.

Photos: Vincent Mosch ©️ Hertie School / Vincent Mosch
Photos: Vincent Mosch ©️ Hertie School / Vincent Mosch

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) presented research into the arrest, detention, and torture of health workers by the Syrian government at an event on 4 December hosted by the Hertie School Centre for Fundamental Rights. The presentation of the report, “'My only crime was that I was a doctor': How the Syrian government targets health workers for arrest, detention, and torture", was followed by a discussion on prospects of accountability for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law during the Syrian conflict before international and national tribunals.  

The discussion included Başak Çalı, Professor of International Law at the Hertie School and Director of the School's Centre for Fundamental Rights, Michele Heisler, physician and Medical Director at Physicians for Human Rights, Mazen Kewara, physician and Country Director for Turkey at the Syrian American Medical Society, Rayan Koteiche, researcher at Physicians for Human Rights and Shaher Younes, a detention survivor and human rights activist.

Prof. Cali described the possibilities for bringing these cases before international and domestic courts  and explained the hurdles for holding Syria accountable as a state and for holding individual perpetrators accountable for human rights violations. She noted that, “Domestic courts are the place where we see tiny glimpses of accountability at the moment: In Germany, Sweden, Norway and France. Where international systems are blocked, this horizontal movement in incredibly important”.

The event was part of the series “Fundamental Rights in Practice” hosted by the Centre for Fundamental Rights.

Listen to the full discussion: