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UN Special Rapporteur Alena Douhan Should Demand that the Syrian Regime Ends Violations and Crimes Against Humanity as a Precondition for Lifting Sanctions

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The Coercive Measures Was Imposed on the Syrian Regime Only after the Regime Has Committed Thousands of Violations Against the Syrian People and State, Which the Regime Still Does to This Day

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Press Release:

Paris – The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) stressed in a report released today that UN Special Rapparortuer Alina Douhan should demand that the Syrian regime ends its violations and crimes against humanity as a precondition for lifting sanctions that were not imposed in a vacuum, but as a consequence of the violations that the regime committed, with some qualifying as crimes against humanity. The coercive measures, SNHR notes, were imposed after the Syrian regime had committed thousands of human rights violatoins against the Syrian people and state, which the regime has continued doing to this day.
The six-page report notes that the Security Council has failed to impose any sanctions on the Syrian regime, or to put an end to the regime’s contiuned violations that include crimes against humanity, which have threatened peace and security, and have displaced millions of Syrians. Meanwhile, the UN has yet to impose any sanctions on the Syrian regime, including an ams embargo.
Executive Director of SNHR Fadel Abdul Ghany says:
“As the Security Council has failed to deter the violations of the Surian regime and bring about a resolution to the armed conflict, some states and entities have imposed sanctions of their own of the Syrian regime for its violations, some of which amount to crimes against humanity. Those violations, including torture, enforced disappearance, forced displacement, and seizure of properties, are still being committed to this very day. The Syrian regime has never launched an investigation into the killing and disappearance of tens of thousands of Syrians, never held any of its members accountable, and never compensated any victim. Therefore, we believe that more sanctions must be imposed on thousands of implicated individuals from the Syrian regime, in order to combat the culture of impunity.”
The report notes that Alena Douhan, the UN Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, will be visiting Syria between October 30 and November 10 to “gather first-hand information on the impact of unilateral coercive measures on the full realization of all human rights in the country.” Ms. Douhan will “pay particular attention to issues such as secondary sanctions, sanctions over-compliance and the sanctions-induced obstacles to the realisation of the sustainable development goals and the right to development.” She is set to submit her final report to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2023.
Remarking on the statement, the report stresses that the overwhelming majority of Syrian regime officials are implicated in committing violations against the Syrian people. The same applies to the members of the People’s Assembly, who have been appointed by the regime’s security services, with one-third of them being directly involved in committing or supporting violations against the Syrian people. None of these officials in any way represent the interests of the Syrian people. Rather, they blindly support the Syrian regime against the interests of the Syrian people.
The report highlights doubts about the visit and its goals, based on its assessment of a past press release issued by Ms. Douhan that was released only three days before the end of 2020 (December 28, 2020), in whch she addressed the US sanctions, describing them as “unilateral coercive measures”. The report details four reservations about Ms. Douhan’s statements, including the fact that she did not refer to any of the reasons that prompted some states to impose sanctions on the Syrian regime. Additionally, Mrs. Douhan’s statement did not mention that all of the sanctions imposed on the regime by European countries, the US, Canada, Turkey, and Australia explicitly exclude relief and medical supplies. Further, the report stresses that many “unliteral coercive” measures have been taken against the Syrian people, which were far more threatening to human rights than imposing sanctions on the Syrian regime. Some notable examples include Iran deploying tens of thousands of its militants from around the world to Syria, which have been involved in human rights violations that qualify as war crimes, as well as Russia deploying mercenary companies such as Wagner, which have been involved in direct killings and widespread lootings, and the thousands of Lebanon-based, Iranian-backed Hezbollah fighters who crossed into Syria and occupied and looted dozens of neighborhoods and areasmotivated by sectarian considerations.
On the other hand, the report notes that it does not disagree with Ms. Douhan on the sanctions’ side-effects impacting civilians. It is not possible to punish a dictatorship like the Syrian regime and its security arms that have permeated every aspect of the Syrian people’s lives without it affecting Syrian society. However, the report notes, there are other aspects of the economic suffering of the Syrian people that are far more serious than the sanctions imposed on the Syrian regime, such as the regime displacing 14 million Syrian citizens, the arrest and disappearance of roughly 136,000 Syrian citizens at the hands of the Syrian regime, and the Syrian regime being ranked as the second-worst regime globally on the Corruption Perception Index for the year 2021.
Moreover, the report stresses that sanctions alone are not enough to put pressure on the Syrian regime. If they had been, it would not have been possible for the regime to survive and keep committing war crimes and crimes against humanity for 11 years. Other forms of sanctions must be enacted alongside the economic ones, including military sanctions. This should be done in tandem with at the expression of serious political willpower through serious action within a strict timed plan with the objective of bringing about political transition towards a government that respects democracy and human rights.
The report calls on Ms. Douhan to constantly remind herself that she is meeting with a regime that has been implicated in crimes against humanity against the Syrian people, and treat it accordingly. Further, the report says that Ms. Douhan should call on the Syrian regime to end all its violations, including torture and enforced disappearence, return propertiesand lands to their rightful owners, and compensate all victims. This is the only way to lift the sanctions.
Additionally, the report calls on the Human Rights Council to thoroughly familiarize itself with the details of the work of the UN Special Rapporteurs and with their political and ideological views. The Human Rights Council should also assess the sanctions imposed on the Syrian regime in a professional and objective way, and call on the Security Council to take action and impose UN sanctions on the Syrian regime that includes an arms embargo.
The report also makes a number of other recommendations.

Download the full report

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