Podcast series: Breaking the Syrian justice impasse - Episode 1

30 March 2022: The Justice Visions project and Impunity Watch are pleased to present a four-part podcast series telling the story of Syrian activists’ efforts to obtain justice.


In Breaking the Syrian justice impasse: A mini-series on justice efforts for SyriansBrigitte Herremans  (Gent University), Habib Nassar (Impunity Watch) and Mohammed Abdullah (Mnemonic) debate the importance of accountability, documentation, victim activism and truth-seeking to get justice for Syrians.

“This is the moment to highlight how innovative approaches by NGOs and victim groups [to justice] have changed the scene. The efforts of victims and family associations to advocate for the establishment of a process to search for over 100.000 missing and disappeared in Syria led the UN General Assembly in December 2021 to adopt a resolution requesting the Secretary General to conduct a study on how to address the issue of the missing" - Habib Nassar.

The first episode looks at how justice actors challenged the justice impasse on Syria by readjusting and applying elements of transitional justice.


Syrian activists Maria Al Abdeh (Executive Director of Women Now For Development) and Mazen Darwish (Founder and Director at the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression and Violations Documentation Center in Syria) highlighted key achievements:

"Syrian civil society actors have been playing a role on advocacy on keeping the narrative of victims alive, especially when some countries are speaking about normalization" - Maria Al Abdeh.


“At the political level, I think that Syrians also succeeded in keeping the issue of justice and accountability on the table" - Mazen Darwish.

The need to look beyond trials and criminal accountability to get true justice for Syrians was a key takeaway from the discussion.


“It’s important to think about the limitation of criminal justice processes. We need to widen our thought about how many survivors would be able to participate, what justice means to different people, how we can really make justice something that impacts the everyday life of people, especially marginalised communities in Syria” - Maria Al Abdeh

Episode 1


Download link and transcript.

About the Syrian activists interviewed in Episode 1:

Dr Maria Al Abdeh is a renowned feminist activist and the Executive Director of Women Now for Development, a leading Syrian women’s rights organisation that has championed a gender-transformative approach to human rights and justice matters.

Mazen Darwish is the General Director of the Syrian Centre for Media and Free Expression. He is a human rights lawyer who played a key role in criminal litigation cases brought before European courts. Mazen was arbitrarily detained in Syria as a result of his human rights activism.

Photo: International Day of the Disappeared. © The Syria Campaign