Since the beginning of Syria’s uprising in 2011, many have died in detention facilities run by the Syrian government’s notorious mukhabarat (security agencies). In 2012, Human Rights Watch identified and mapped 27 of these detention centers around the country, many in the capital, Damascus. While accounts by released detainees and defectors consistently indicated that incommunicado detention and torture were rampant and detainees were dying in large numbers in Syria, the scale of abuse and deaths in detention remained unknown.
Then in January 2014, news emerged that a defector had left Syria with tens of thousands of images, many showing the bodies of detainees who died in Syria’s detention centers. A team of international lawyers, as well as Syrian activists, interviewed the defector, code-named “Caesar,” who stated that, as an official forensic photographer for the Military Police, he had personally photographed bodies of dead detainees and helped to archive thousands more similar photographs.
These photographs were taken apparently as part of a bureaucratic effort by the Syrian security apparatus to maintain a photographic record of the thousands who have died in detention since 2011 as well as of members of security forces who died in attacks by armed opposition groups. The exact purpose of the photographs is not clear. In an interview with a journalist, Caesar himself indicated that he “often wondered” about the reason but that in his view, “the regime documents everything so that it will forget nothing. Therefore, it documents these deaths…If one day the judges have to reopen cases, they’ll need them.”
In total, according to the international team of experts that prepared the first report on the collection, Caesar smuggled more than 50,000 images out of Syria on discs and thumb drives until he defected.
Click here to access the full report.
Documentary: “Oil and Death Squads in Colombia”Read Story
Documental: “Escuadrones de petróleo y de la muerte en Colombia”Read Story
Maite Parejo participates in the event “La memoire indélébile des crimes...Read Story
Evento: “Proceso internacional por crímenes de lesa humanidad de la guerra...Read Story
PRESS RELEASE – British Lawyers in Geneva Call on the United Nations to...Read Story
BBC: “La “Masacre de Octubre” va a juicio en Estados Unidos:...Read Story
Event: “Prosecuting International Crimes: Expert Meeting on the...Read Story
Event: “The Indelible Memory of Crimes”, with Maite Parejo SousaRead Story
Event: “Attacking health: the end of international humanitarian law?”...Read Story
Publication of the Book: “The Rule of Law in Developing Countries: The case of...Read Story
Just Security: Toby Cadman Rejoinder to Government of BangladeshRead Story
Toby Cadman in TRT World: Can the charity sector survive a trust crisis?Read Story