If the Dead Could Speak


2016 Season

In August 2013, a military defector with the code name “Caesar” smuggled 53,275 photographs out of Syria. Human Rights Watch received the full set of images via the Syrian National Movement, a Syrian anti-government political group. Nine months of research revealed some of the human stories behind the photos, which included images of at least 6,786 people who had died in government custody. Human Rights Watch’s December 2015 report and video If the Dead Could Speak laid out new evidence regarding the authenticity of what are known as the “Caesar photographs,” identified several victims, and highlighted some of the key causes of death. In this special programme featuring the Human Rights Watch-produced video and an in-depth conversation with Nadim Houry, deputy director, Middle East and North Africa division, we will explore the investigative techniques used to assemble this report, the decision-making process around publishing the material, the exposure it garnered, and its impact to date. Advisory: certain images in this programme may be upsetting to some viewers.

Nadim Houry, Human Rights Watch
English, Arabic
Filmmaker Bio(s): 
Nadim Houry

Nadim Houry is deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division and director of the Beirut office. Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, Houry served as deputy counsel for the Volcker Commission, where he spent more than a year conducting fact-finding missions in the Middle East as part of the United Nations' corruption inquiry into the Oil-for-Food Programme. He is fluent in Arabic and French.