The Syrian Regime Issues More ‘Laws’ Contradicting the Essence of the Law Which Are More Like Security Texts Aimed at Legitimizing the Violation of Citizens’ Rights
Paris – The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) today released its monthly special report summarizing the human rights situation in Syria, outlining the most notable human rights violations documented by the SNHR in April 2022 at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria, in which it notes that the Syrian regime issues more ‘laws’ contradicting the essence of the law which are more like security texts aimed at legitimizing the violation of citizens’ rights.
The 33-page report outlines the most notable violations SNHR documented in April 2022, including the death toll of civilian victims who were killed by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces, as well as the record of cases of arrest/detention and enforced disappearances. The report also highlights attacks on civilian objects, which SNHR was able to document during this period.
The report draws upon the ongoing daily monitoring of news and developments, and on an extensive network of relations with various sources, in addition to analyzing a large number of photographs and videos.
The report documents the deaths of 101 civilians, including 17 children, 14 women (adult female), and one medical worker, in April 2022, with the highest percentage of killings being carried out at the hands of other parties. Among the victims were six individuals who died due to torture at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria.
The report documents at least 194 cases of arbitrary arrest/detention in April 2022 at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria, including six children and three women (adult female), with the largest percentage of these carried out by Syrian regime forces in the governorates of Damascus Suburbs, Damascus then Raqqa.
The report documents at least 10 attacks on vital civilian facilities in April 2022, four of which were carried out at the hands of Syrian Democratic Forces, one at the hands of Russian forces, one at the hands of all Armed Opposition/Syrian National Army, and four at the hands of other parties. Among these attacks, SNHR documented two on educational facilities, and two on medical facilities
As the report reveals, April saw a noticeable increase in the frequency of artillery shelling carried out by Syrian regime forces on the Idlib region in northwestern Syria, compared to previous months this year. This shelling was concentrated on the villages and towns of Jabal al Zaweya and the towns of the western suburbs of Aleppo and the northern and eastern Idlib suburbs. Also in April, especially in the last two weeks of the month, the report documents an increase in the frequency of Russian overflights and airstrikes on northwestern Syria compared to March. The Syrian-Russian alliance forces launched dozens of airstrikes on the Syrian Badiya (desert) in April, targeting vehicles and areas where ISIS elements are in hiding.
The report adds that Syrian Democratic Forces continued to launch ground attacks on the areas of the northwestern and eastern Aleppo suburbs throughout April.
The areas controlled by the Syrian National Army forces in the Afrin region and the northern and eastern suburbs of Aleppo witnessed an escalation in the intensity of clashes among the Syrian National Army factions in April compared to previous months.
In terms of bombings, the report documents the explosion of improvised explosive devices in the governorates of Daraa, Hasaka, and Aleppo.
The report notes that April saw continuing civilian deaths and injuries due to explosions caused by landmines and munitions remnants in various governorates and regions of Syria, with these incidents being concentrated especially in the governorates of Daraa, Deir Ez-Zour, Hasaka, Idlib, and Hama. SNHR documented the deaths of 13 civilians, including four children and two women, resulting from landmine explosions in April. The report also adds that April witnessed killings of civilians, including children and women, in various governorates, mostly in Daraa and Hasaka governorates, by gunmen whom SNHR has been unable to identify. Deir Ez-Zour governorate has also witnessed an increase in killings by gunmen who we believe are affiliated with ISIS.
The report notes that the living and economic situation in all regions of Syria continues to deteriorate constantly at all levels. The areas under the control of Syrian regime forces witnessed a continuation of the increase in steep price rises for most food and other grocery items, amid a scarcity of services, especially in supplies of electricity and water.
The report notes that the distribution of bread has been suspended in Aleppo city’s al Sheikh Maqsoud and al Ashrafiya neighborhoods, which are under the control of Syrian Democratic Forces, since April 5, after the limited amount of flour stored in the warehouses ran out following the siege imposed by Syrian regime forces on the entrances to the two neighborhoods since March 13, 2022, which prevented local people from bringing in any flour, medicines, medical supplies or fuel.
The cities of Hasaka and al Qameshli witnessed clashes between Syrian regime forces and Syrian Democratic Forces on April 5, after which the Syrian Democratic Forces imposed a siege on all the security centers belonging to Syrian regime forces in both cities; this siege was reportedly launched in response to the siege imposed by Syrian regime forces on al Sheikh Maqsoud and al Ashrafiya neighborhoods in Aleppo city.
In northwestern Syria, the report reveals that civilians continued to suffer from the high prices of consumer goods, in light of the dominance of Hay’at Tahrir al Sham over the trade in these materials and setting of their prices by pro-HTS traders, in addition to the depreciation of the value of the Turkish lira – used for trading there – against the US dollar, in light of the almost total lack of purchasing power of those living in the region, due to the spread of unemployment and high poverty rates. As the report adds, the economic situation in northeastern Syria is not different from the rest of the Syrian regions, with the markets witnessing a significant increase in the prices of consumer goods in conjunction with the month of Ramadan, which amounted to nearly 100%.
In regard to asylum, displacement and forced displacement, the suffering of the IDPs in northwest Syria has continued, especially in light of the deteriorating economic conditions coinciding with the month of Ramadan. In al Rukban camp on the Syrian-Jordanian border, the already extreme suffering of the camp’s residents continues to worsen due to the siege imposed on the camp by the regime and the prevention of humanitarian aid entry, forcing some families to go to areas controlled by Syrian regime forces. As for the camps in northeastern Syria, the situation is also still catastrophic, especially in al Hawl Camp in Hasaka suburbs.
The report further reveals that evidence gathered by SNHR indicates that attacks have been directed against civilians and civilian objects, with Syrian-Russian alliance forces continuing to commit various crimes of extrajudicial killing, arrest, torture, and enforced disappearance. In addition, the indiscriminate attacks they have carried out caused the destruction of various facilities and other buildings. There are reasonable grounds to believe that the war crime of attacking civilians has been committed in many cases.
The report stresses that the Syrian government has violated international humanitarian law and customary law, and a number of UN Security Council resolutions, particularly resolutions 2139 and 2042 concerning the release of detainees, as well as resolution 2254, all without any accountability.
The report adds that the instances of indiscriminate and disproportionate bombardment carried out by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces are considered to be in clear violation of international humanitarian law, with such indiscriminate killings amounting to war crimes.
The report calls on the UN Security Council to take additional steps following its adoption of Resolution 2254, and stresses the importance of referring the Syrian case to the International Criminal Court, adding that all those who are responsible should be held accountable including the Russian regime whose involvement in war crimes has been repeatedly proven.
The report also calls on the Security Council to adopt a resolution banning the use of cluster munitions and landmines in Syria, similar to the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons, and to include advice on how to safely remove the remnants of such dangerous weapons.
The report additionally requests that all relevant United Nations agencies make greater efforts to provide food, medical and humanitarian assistance in areas where fighting has ceased, and in internally displaced person camps, and to follow up with those States that have pledged voluntary contributions.
The report calls for the implementation of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) doctrine after all political channels have proved fruitless through all agreements, the Cessation of Hostilities statements, and Astana agreements that followed, stressing the need to resort to Chapter VII, and to implement the norm of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ doctrine, which was established by the United Nations General Assembly.
The report calls on the Independent International Commission of Inquiry (COI) to launch investigations into the cases included in this report and previous reports, and confirms the SNHR’s willingness to cooperate and provide further evidence and data, with the report calling on the COI to focus on the issue of landmines and cluster munitions within their next report.
The report also calls on the United Nations Special Envoy to Syria to condemn the perpetrators of crimes and massacres and those who were primarily responsible for dooming the de-escalation agreements, to reschedule the peace process so that it can resume its natural course despite Russia’s attempts to divert and distort it, through empowering the Constitutional Committee prior to the establishment of a transitional governing body.
The report also emphasizes that the Syrian regime must stop its indiscriminate shelling and targeting of residential areas, hospitals, schools, and markets, and stop using prohibited munitions and barrel bombs, as well as complying with UN Security Council resolutions and customary humanitarian law.
The report stresses that the states supporting Syrian Democratic Forces should apply pressure on these forces in order to compel them to cease all of their violations in all the areas and towns under their control, adding that Syrian Democratic Forces must immediately stop conscripting children, hold the officers involved in such violations accountable, and pledge to return all children who have been arrested for conscription immediately.
The report also calls on all Armed Opposition factions and the Syrian National Army to ensure the protection of civilians in all areas under their control, and calls on them to take care to distinguish between civilians and military targets and to cease any indiscriminate attacks.
Lastly, the report stresses the need for humanitarian organizations to develop urgent operational plans to secure decent shelter for internally displaced persons, and to provide protected facilities and vehicles, such as medical facilities, schools, and ambulances, with distinctive signs that can be distinguished from long distances, as well as making several additional recommendations.