UN High Commissioner Spokesperson reveals reports of violations and abuses in Idlib, western Syria
Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice, Geneva, November 22, 2020
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Spokesperson, Ravina Shamdasani, announced that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has received reports of continued detention of civilians, including humanitarian workers, in Idlib, northwestern Syria, in areas under the control of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and other armed groups.
Arrests and executions carried out:
Shamdasani added that other very disturbing reports have been received about executions carried out by the de facto authorities, following a series of arrests and alleged trials, according to a media briefing published by the OHCHR media center.
According to the reports, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham confirmed on Wednesday that it was holding a 28-year-old woman, Noor al-Shallo, a humanitarian and media worker, allegedly on “moral” and “criminal” charges.
Reports indicated that the family of al-Shallo was not able to contact her since she was detained by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham members in September at the HTS-linked Sarmada “court” in Idlib, while following up on issues related to the custody of her three children.
The spokesperson said that a number of reports indicate that al-Shallo may be at risk of execution, urging the de facto authorities to refrain from committing any harmful act, ensure her protection and release her immediately.
These executions amount to war crimes:
The spokesperson said they received verified reports that several individuals were executed, for their alleged affiliation to factions and parties opposed to Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, including the Kurdish armed groups, and the Syrian government, or on allegations of blasphemy, adultery, theft or murder.
Shamdasani stressed that international humanitarian law expressly prohibits sentencing and carrying out executions without issuing a previous judicial ruling that provides all necessary judicial guarantees. Under international law, executions carried out in violation of this prohibition may amount to a war crime.
Shamdasani also stated that armed groups continue to impose rules and codes of conduct on civilians in a manner that violates a range of human rights protected by international law, including the rights to life, liberty, personal security, the right to freedom of movement, expression, peaceful assembly, and the right to association.
At the end of her briefing, the High Commissioner spokesperson noted that non-state actors exercising government-like functions and control over certain territories are obligated to respect human rights norms when their behavior affects the human rights of individuals under their control.