International Nuremberg Human Rights Award for Syrian photographer “Caesar”

October 1, 2017

“’Caesar’ and his colleagues were driven by a desire to ensure that the documented crimes against humanity would not go unpunished. To this end they took great risks upon themselves”, explains the jury statement. “In bestowing the International Nuremberg Human Rights Award on the ‘Caesar’ group, the jury also wishes to highlight the history of Nuremberg as the cradle of modern international criminal law.

When the civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, it was “Caesar’s” job to photograph the corpses of Syrian soldiers and opposition forces and to systematically archive the images. He found the work increasingly difficult to bear. “I had never seen anything like it”, he later said in an interview with the French journalist Garance Le Caisne, whose persistence played a major part in ensuring that “Caesar’s” images found their way into the public domain.

“Caesar” decided to act rather than continue documenting in silence: over a period of roughly two years, he secretly copied his photographs onto USB sticks and smuggled them out of the country with the help of friends. His life was constantly at risk as a result.

In January 2014, “Caesar’s” photographs were published on the Internet and found to be “reliable” by an investigative commission of former chief prosecutors of international criminal courts. “Caesar” fled from Syria and by his own account is now living in Europe.

Because his life is still in danger, the photographer was not able to attend the award ceremony at Nuremberg Opera House. Garance Le Caisne accepted the award on his behalf.

Garance Le Caisne
Stadt Nürnberg/Christine Dierenbach

Source: International Nuremberg Human Rights Award for “Caesar”

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