Public event

Reflections on Koblenz: Exercise of universal jurisdiction in Germany for crimes against humanity in Syria

This event is hosted by the Centre for Fundamental Rights as part of the Fundamental Rights in Practice event series, in collaboration with Human Rights Watch.

On 13 January 2022, the Higher Regional Court in the small German town of Koblenz sentenced Anwar Raslan, a former Syrian intelligence officer, to life in prison for crimes against humanity. The trial lasted almost two years. It saw more than one hundred hearings and eighty witnesses appearing before the court. 
In this webinar, panel members will address key questions: What is the significance of this trial and the verdict for ensuring accountability for international crimes in Syria? What will be the most salient legacies of Koblenz for truth, justice, memory and victim participation? How has the German criminal justice system fared in its exercise of universal jurisdiction for crimes against humanity in this trial? What effects will this trial have on current and future trials across Europe concerning accountability for international crimes in Syria? 

Prior registration is required. Registered attendees will receive the dial-in details via e-mail prior to the event.

Relevant background information, provided by Human Rights Watch:



  • Wafa Mustafa is an activist from Syria, a journalist, and a survivor from detention. She left the country in 2013 after her father was forcibly disappeared by the government in Damascus. Her activism and work covers the impact of detention on young girls and women and families.

  • Whitney-Martina Nosakhare is Assistant Counsel for the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch where she conducts research and advocacy on universal jurisdiction and has been monitoring the Koblenz trial.  Prior to HRW, Whitney worked as a researcher at the Institute for International Peace and Security Law at the University of Cologne.

  • Anna Oehmichen has been a criminal lawyer since 2011, specialising on cross-border and international and European criminal justice matters. She publishes regularly in these fields and holds a lectureship at the University of Giessen, Germany. Dr. Oehmichen represented several victims and joint plaintiffs before the Koblenz trial against Anwar R. 


  • Başak Çalı is Professor of International Law at the Hertie School and Co-Director of the School's Centre for Fundamental Rights. She is an expert in international law and institutions, international human rights law and policy. She has authored publications on theories of international law, the relationship between international law and domestic law, standards of review in international law, interpretation of human rights law, legitimacy of human rights courts, and implementation of human rights judgments.