Syria is said to be the most documented conflict in history. Dozens of institutions and organizations both inside and outside of Syria have been collecting evidence of systematic breaches of international human rights and humanitarian law since the beginning of the conflict. Originally, the aim was to one day bring potential perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity to account. After nearly seven years of conflict, many Syrian organizations have lost hope in achieving criminal justice any time soon and no longer see it as their main priority.
This briefing paper by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) argues that it is imperative to find new and innovative uses for the piles of unused evidence. Criminal justice is not the only form of accountability, which can include acknowledgment of suffering, the preservation of memory and victims’ right to truth; all important aspects of transitional justice. Additionally, the wealth of documentation available may help mediate future property disputes among returning refugees, help determine the civil status of survivors and returnees, and aid in the status determination of those missing and forcibly disappeared.