Germany Arrests Two Syrians for Alleged Crimes Against Humanity

German police have arrested two Syrian citizens on suspicion of crimes against humanity, including torturing prisoners, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. The Syrians are suspected to have carried out the crimes as part of their work for the Syrian intelligence service. Germany, Norway, and Sweden are the only three European countries with universal jurisdiction over war crimes, meaning they can prosecute and try crimes committed abroad. A spokeswoman for the Prosecutor’s Office said both suspects were part of the Syrian security service center in Damascus and had left Syria in 2012. One of the suspects was a high-ranking employee in the Syrian intelligence service, and therefore is strongly suspected of participating in torturing opposition activists between 2011 and 2012, prosecutors said in a statement. The second Syrian is suspected of helping kill two people and torturing at least 2,000 people.

Efforts to prosecute members of the Assad government have repeatedly failed because Syria has not signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.