Torture in Syria: Human rights lawyers and clients, a complex relationship

In 2013, Obeida Dabbagh learns of the disappearance of his brother and nephew, arrested in Syria by the forces of the Bashar al-Assad regime. Represented by the lawyer Clémence Bectarte, this French-Syrian national decides to lodge a legal complaint with the court in Paris. Five years after their disappearance, a brief death certificate is handed to the family without any mention of the circumstances. A few months later, the French justice system issues arrest warrants against three high-ranking Syrian officials. How can you, as a lawyer, manage relations with clients in the face of such realities, and be supportive without over-promising? How do you conduct a dialogue about unbearable facts such as torture and murder?
Clémence Bectarte, Obeida Dabbagh and his family will discuss this particular relationship in light of the case that ties them together. They will be accompanied by Alain Werner, founder of Civita Maximas, an organisation made up of jurists and lawyers who represent victims of war and crimes against humanity, particularly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast.

This forum is followed by a signing by Garance Le Caisne, in partnership with Payot Librairie..

ConflictsInternational lawMiddle East

Monday 13 March


Espace Pitoëff - Grande salle

sold out - in case of cancellation, tickets will be put back on sale before the screening

Followed by the debate "Torture in Syria: Human rights lawyers and clients, a complex relationship" & by a book signing of Garance Le Caisne

In partnership with TRIAL International & Le Temps


Clémence Bectarte Lawyer and coordinator of the FIDH Judicial Action Group

Obeida Dabbagh Protagonist of the film "Les Âmes Perdues", Brother of Mazen Dabbagh

Dana Dabbagh Daughter of Obeida, niece of Mazen Dabbagh

Alain Werner Founding Director of Civitas Maxima

Hanane Dabbagh Wife of Obeida, sister-in-law of Mazen Dabbagh

Moderated by

Aline Jaccottet Head of the international section, Le Temps

To go further

Fiche thématique conçue par plusieurs membres de Ink International, journal des étudiant·es en Science Politique et Relations Internationales de l'UNIGE.

This debat is preceded by the movie:

Compétition - Focus

Les Âmes perdues

By Stéphane Malterre & Garance Le Caisne

In 2013, a Syrian State official flees Damascus with photos of thousands of corpses tortured to death in the country's prisons since 2011. One year later, the 27,000 photos of the Caesar Report reveal to the world the horror of the crimes of Bashar Al-Assad's regime. This ground-breaking documentary combines testimonies from the victims' relatives, from the Caesar report, from activists, lawyers, archival footage as well as from a survivor. The directors Stéphane Malterre and Garance Le Caisne question the effectiveness of international justice in the condemnation of these crimes and shed light on the arduous legal struggle of the victims' families and their lawyers.

  • Section Competition - Focus
  • Original language(s) French, English & Arabic
  • Subtitle(s) English & French

JusticeMemory & HistoryProche & Moyen-Orient

Stéphane Malterre


  • Garance Le Caisne
  • Stéphane Malterre


  • Les Films D'Ici
  • Katuh Studio

World sales

  • The Party Film Sales


  • Stéphane Malterre
  • Beate Scherer
  • Thibault Delavigne
  • Laura Sipan


  • Gregor Keienburg
  • Raffael Seyfrid


  • Armin Badde
  • Frédéric Commault


  • Sébastien Touta
Production country
France & Germany
Swiss Premiere