The Syrian Regime Continues to Kill Syrian Citizens without Registering Their Death in the State Civil Registry Departments
Press release (Link below to download full report):
Paris – The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) announced in its monthly report released today that 91 civilians were killed in Syria in August 2022, including 28 children, two women, and seven individuals who died as a result of torture, noting that the Syrian regime continues to kill Syrian citizens without registering their death in the state civil registry departments.
The 21 page report details the death toll of victims documented killed by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria in August 2022, particularly focusing on those victims killed under torture, paying particular attention to those massacres committed by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces which the SNHR team was able to document in this period, detailing the most notable incidents. The report also provides details of the most notable work carried out by SNHR concerning the issue of extrajudicial killing.
The report draws upon the ongoing daily monitoring of news and developments, and on SNHR’s extensive network of relations with various sources, in addition to the analysis of a large number of photographs and videos.
The report reveals that the Syrian regime has failed to register hundreds of thousands of citizens it killed since March 2011 in the death records of the civil registry, adding that the regime brutally controls the issuance of death certificates, which are not made available to any of the families of its victims, whether they were killed at the hands of the Syrian regime or by other parties, or to the families of the missing and forcibly disappeared. The Syrian regime only allows death certificates to be issued for those who meet the narrow criteria set by the regime and its security services. The report notes that the vast majority of victims’ families are unable to obtain death certificates from the Syrian regime, for fear of linking their name to that of a person who was detained by the regime and killed under torture, meaning that he or she was a dissident who opposed the Syrian regime, or of their loved one being registered as a ‘terrorist’ if s/he is wanted by the security services; additionally, many victims’ families have been forcibly displaced outside the areas controlled by the Syrian regime.
The report adds that on August 10, 2022, the Minister of Justice in the Syrian regime government issued Circular No. 22 specifying the procedures for the conduct of proceedings related to registering deaths within Sharia courts. The circular included new conditions stipulating that five items of evidence must be submitted to and approved by the relevant judges in proceedings related to registering the death. It also requires that all relevant courts involved in death registration cases comply with the circular’s content. The circular also imposed security clearance on judicial authorities to register death cases, increasing the security services’ intrusion.
The report notes that August saw an increase in the number of documented deaths compared to the total documented in July. The report documents a total of 91 civilians killed, including 28 children and two women. Most of the victims were killed by other parties. The Syrian regime was documented as killing 14 of these civilians, including seven victims due to torture, one of whom was a child. As the report documents, August saw the continuation of civilian casualties as a result of landmine explosions in different governorates and regions of Syria; the report documents the deaths of 11 civilians, including five children, as a result of landmine explosions in August, bringing the death toll resulting from the explosion of landmines since the beginning of 2022 to 101 civilians, including 50 children and nine women.
The report also documents in August the deaths of 24 civilians, including one child and one woman, due to gunfire by parties which SNHR has not yet been able to identify; the largest number of victims were killed in Daraa governorate, which saw the deaths of 11 civilians due to gunfire.
The report documents the deaths of 91 civilians, including 28 children and two women (adult female), killed at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria in August 2022. This figure is broken down according to the perpetrators in each case, with 14 of the civilian victims, including four children, killed at the hands of Syrian regime forces, four civilians killed at the hands of Syrian Democratic Forces, and 73 civilians, including 24 children and two women, were killed at the hands of other parties.
As the report reveals, analysis of the data for this period shows that Aleppo governorate saw the largest death toll compared to other Syrian governorates, accounting for approximately 37% of the total death toll documented in August, followed by Daraa governorate with approximately 18%, then Idlib and Hasaka governorates with approximately 12% each.
The report further reveals that the SNHR team documented the deaths of seven individuals, including one child, due to torture in August 2022, all of whom died at the hands of Syrian regime forces.
The report also documents one massacre in August perpetrated by other parties. According to the SNHR’s Victim Documentation team, this massacre resulted in the deaths of 15 civilians, including six children.
As the report notes, the evidence collected by SNHR indicates that some of the attacks documented in the report were deliberately directed against civilians and civilian objects. These attacks along with indiscriminate bombardment have resulted in the destruction of facilities and buildings. The report notes that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the war crime of attacking civilians has been committed in many cases.
As the report further notes, the use of remote bombings to target densely populated areas reflects a criminal mindset intent on deliberately inflicting the greatest possible number of deaths, which is a clear contravention of international human rights law and a flagrant violation of the Geneva VI Convention, Articles 27, 31, and 32.
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 involved in perpetrating crimes against humanity and war crimes should be held accountable.
The report also 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 persons’ camps, and to follow up with those States that have pledged voluntary contributions.
The report calls for the implementation of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ doctrine (R2P) after all political channels have proved fruitless throughout all the agreements reached, 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 further recommends that the international community should work to launch projects to create maps revealing the locations of landmines and cluster munitions in all Syrian governorates. This would facilitate the process of clearing them and educating the population about their locations.
The report additionally 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, as well as calling them on to focus on the issue of landmines and cluster munitions within the next report.
The report also stresses that the Syrian regime must stop the indiscriminate shelling and targeting of residential areas, hospitals, schools, and markets, as well as ending its acts of torture that have caused the deaths of thousands of Syrian citizens in detention centers, and comply with UN Security Council resolutions and customary humanitarian law.
Lastly, the report calls on all the parties to the conflict to provide detailed maps of the locations where they have planted landmines, especially civilian sites or areas near residential communities, as well as making several additional recommendations.