Majdi Nema case - The French Supreme Court rejects the possibility of prosecuting a leader of the armed group Jaysh al-Islam for enforced disappearances

Press release
ar en fr
Manuel Cohen / Manuel Cohen via AFP

On 14 February 2024, the French Supreme Court confirmed the dismissal of some of the charges for which Majdi Nema (Islam Alloush), former spokesman and leader of the Syrian armed group Jaysh al-Islam, had been indicted before the Paris Criminal Court. Thus, after more than four years of proceedings, Majdi Nema will be tried by the Paris Criminal Court only for complicity in the war crime of enlisting minors and for participating in a group formed to prepare war crimes. His trial will take place from 28 April to 23 May 2025.

Paris, February 29, 2024. In November 2023, the Paris Court of Appeal had dismissed the charges against Majdi Nema (Islam Alloush) for the crime of enforced disappearance and the war crimes of physical and psychological harm and deliberate attacks on civilian populations, for which the investigating judges had ordered his indictment. Following an appeal by the civil parties, the French Supreme Court upheld this decision on February 14, 2024.

Despite the Court of Appeal stating that "it is clear from the information and the numerous testimonies gathered that Jaysh al-Islam must be considered responsible for the disappearance of the four human rights defenders." The court considered that the criterion of being an agent of the State or an individual acting with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of the State, within the meaning of the United Nations Convention against Enforced Disappearances, was not met in the case of the Jaysh al-Islam group.

The French Supreme Court confirmed this reasoning and found that the legal elements required to apply this offense had not been met.

"This is a very disappointing decision because even though the judges of the Paris Court of Appeal had recognized that the judicial investigation had provided sufficient evidence to consider Jaysh al-Islam responsible for the disappearance of the Douma four, Majdi Nema will not be judged on these facts", explains Clémence Bectarte, lawyer and coordinator of the FIDH Litigation Action Group.

"This decision marks a regrettable hindrance to the exercise of universal jurisdiction for the crime of enforced disappearance", adds Patrick Baudouin, lawyer for LDH.

However, this dismissal should not be misinterpreted as a negation of the militia’s responsibility for the crime of kidnapping SCM’s colleagues.

A long enduring legal battle

Therefore, the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), with the support of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme (LDH), regard the issue of revealing the fate of Razan Zaitouneh, Samira al-Khalil, Wael Al-Hamada, and Nazem Hamadi as an enduring legal battle, fought in European and Turkish courts, and wherever judicial venues exist to address the issue of the disappeared, reveal their fate, and achieve justice against the perpetrators.

SCM also reiterates its ongoing efforts to gather evidence and bolster the case against the perpetrators of the abduction crime. They pledge to relentlessly pursue all available legal channels to unveil the fate of the forcibly disappeared colleagues.

"As the investigating judges, alongside the public prosecution, and the Court of Appeal acknowledged Jaysh al-Islam’s role in the abduction of our four colleagues, we demand that the current leadership of Jaysh al-Islam swiftly end the ongoing suffering that has persisted since 2013 and promptly disclose the whereabouts of Razan Zaitouneh, Nazem Hamadi, Samira al-Khalil, and Wa’el Hamada", says Mazen Darwish, General Director of SCM and Secretary General of FIDH.

Read more