In one of the most moving presentation ceremonies of the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award, high-profile speakers appealed to the community of states and to national courts, to combat impunity for international and human rights crimes.
Stephen Rapp, Former Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and at the Special Court for Sierra Leone
"Some countries such as Germany have criminal statutes that allow the exercise of universal jurisdiction, which is permitted under international law for crimes like torture that have been recognized to threaten all of humankind, and be prosecutable anywhere without regard to the nationality of the victim or perpetrator, if a State is willing and able. .... Syria is a place where one’s son or daughter, on the way to school or work, can be ‘disappeared’ into places of detention, torture, and murder, for who knows what reason—perhaps only because their IDs show that they were born in towns associated with the opposition. It is place where hospitals, ambulances, doctors and nurses are in the cross-hairs for death and destruction. It is a place, where poison gas, which the world banned after the horrors of the Western Front 100 years ago, has been unleashed against the innocent."
Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch
"Whatever the mechanism, the Caesar photos will help to ensure that senior figures of the Assad government and others in the chain of command are prosecuted not only for bombing, gassing, and besieging civilians but also for the horrors they visited on those held within its detention facilities. We all owe Caesar our deepest respect and admiration for his courageous delivery of this evidence to the outside world. The duty now lies with all of us to see that the crimes he documented are promptly brought to an end and that the people who ordered them are finally brought to justice."
Lord Mayor, Dr. Ulrich Maly, in his speech honoured the courage Caesar and his supporters have mustered in order to uncover human rights crimes in Syria.
Barbara Lochbihler, Vice-President of the Human Rights Committee of the European Parliament, understands Caesar’s photographs as an “appeal to oppose the torturers and mass murderers in Syria”.
Kenneth Roth, Director of Human Rights Watch, pointed out the important role Caesar’s photographs play in the investigation of crimes against humanity in Syria.
Five empty chairs for the award winners were placed on stage. They themselves were not present. But with a sound recording from Le Caisne’s book, Caesar nevertheless “spoke” to the guests.
Stephen Rapp, former Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, expressed his hope that Caesar’s photographs would lead to the people responsible in Syria to be brought to justice.
The award sculpture for the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award was inspired by the Way of Human Rights in the city.
Dani Karavan, member of the jury and the artist who created the Way of Human Rights, together with Lord Mayor Ulrich Maly presented the award to Garance LE Caisne.
On behalf of the award winners, Garance Le Caisne accepted the award. In her speech, she underlined the major importance this award has for Caesar.
Guests at the award ceremony. The empty seat is for Abdolfattah Soltani, the 2009 Human Rights Award winner. Soltani has been imprisoned in Tehran since 2011.
Nuremberg State Philharmonic Orchestra and Musical Director Bosch enhanced the ceremony with impressive musical performances. They included the first German performance of “Ramal” by Syrian-American composer, Kareem Roustom.
Lord Mayor Ulrich Maly welcomed the 700 guests at the Nuremberg Opera House, including Barbara Lochbihler, Vice-President of the Human Rights Committee of the European Parliament. She understands Caesar’s photographs as an “appeal to oppose the torturers and mass murderers in Syria”.
Garance Le Caisne, author of the book "Opération César: Au coeur de la machine de mort syrienne" (Operation Caesar. In the Heart of the Syrian Death Machine) accepted the prize on behalf of the prizewinners.