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International Commission of Inquiry on Syria: ‘The country remains far from a safe environment for civilians’

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News briefing:    

Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice   

Geneva, 14 July 2021   

The head of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, Paulo Pinheiro, said that Syria remains a tinderbox, and yet it is still far from a safe environment for civilians.   

A relative decrease in the suffering of the Syrians:   

This came during a statement by Pinheiro addressed to the President of the International Human Rights Council in Geneva, and published by the council’s media center, in which he said: “Syria remains a tinderbox. While the March 2020 ceasefire resulted in a significant decline in hostilities, it has only been a relative reduction from peaks of suffering inflicted at the beginning of last year.”    

The Chair of the International Commission of Inquiry pointed out that many did not notice a slight difference in their daily lives, as the country is still far from a safe environment for civilians, as Idlib and Hama governorates witnessed continuous clashes, with shelling and counter-bombing between government forces and armed opposition groups.   

The issue of arbitrary detention:   

“As prominent in recent months, as it has been in the past, is the issue of arbitrary detention across Syria. Our report released just 10 days ago, shows how the Government of Syria’s forces arbitrarily arrested, tortured and summarily executed detainees,” Pinheiro added.   

“They have committed both war crimes and crimes against humanity. Other warring parties perpetrated similar war crimes in their detention facilities – with UN-designated terrorist organizations such as HTS and ISIL also engaging in crimes against humanity. ISIL also carried out a genocide against the Yazidis, in part through detention,” the chair explained.   

Pinheiro said that tens of thousands of people in detention are still missing, and that the government on a large scale, as well as other groups on a smaller scale, is prolonging the suffering of hundreds of thousands of family members by withholding information.    

Pinheiro urged the Syrian government, and all other parties who subject the individuals to disappearance, to take urgent steps to reveal their fate, saying: “Member states involved in the conflict must also increase efforts to convince the parties they support to share information about the missing.”   

Displacement and a military solution:   

In his statement, the chair of the International Commission of Inquiry stated that “Half the pre-war population has been displaced, many repeatedly. Numerous Member States have intervened directly and indirectly, including through the imposition of unilateral sectoral sanctions that have dramatically worsened an already dire economic situation.”   

Pinheiro stressed that military solutions in Syria by all sides have led to a decade of death, deprivation and destruction. Opportunistic foreign funding, weapons, and other support to the warring parties have fueled this fire that the world was happy to watch burn.   

“There is a dire need for international attention to address the grim situation of impunity that prevails in the Syrian conflict. Victims’ demands for justice and accountability are a central component of any durable peace,” Pinheiro concluded. 

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