Every five years, the United Nations reviews the human rights situation of its 193 member states through a process called The Universal Periodic Review (UPR). This year, seven organizations submitted findings about the ongoing human rights violations occurring in Syria for the consideration of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s UPR of the Syrian Arab Republic in January 2022.
In the report, we cited three main categories of violations: enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests carried out by the Syrian government, the continued denial of individuals’ rights to citizenship, identity, and property, and the continued discrimination of ethnic and cultural minorities.
The current UPR period saw continued and alarming patterns of state enforced disappearances which began at the start of the armed conflict in Syria. We found that authorities often do not follow prescribed arrest procedures when carrying out arrest and have detained individuals for months, and even years, without formal charges. Additionally, we recognized that the State continues to exert political influence on courts, citing reports by prosecutors and defense attorneys of intimidation and obstruction by state agents.
Despite frequent criticism, the State also continues to violate individuals’ rights to citizenship, identity, and property. For example, the Syrian Nationality Law currently does not allow women to pass on their nationality to their children, and access to birth registration remains limited. Given the millions of Syrian children born with absent fathers or born in exile, the potential for statelessness is widespread.
Finally, our organizations highlighted the continued discrimination of ethnic minorities in Syria. For example, the State has enacted laws and ordinances that discriminate against Kurds, such as the Minister of Interior’s order No. 122, issued 1992, which bans giving Kurdish children Kurdish names, and which linked the child’s birth registration to security services. Furthermore, the state continues to deny citizenship to approximately 46,000 Syrian Kurds.
The continued human rights violations our organizations, and others, have reported severely impact the safety and freedoms of the Syrian people, and make the peace process in Syria untenable. We recommend the UN delegates to pressure the Syrian state to:
- Terminate the practice of enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrest and detention, and all forms of torture.
- Uphold an individual’s right of defense, including the right to legal counsel and representation, from the moment of arrest through the conclusion of trial.
- Provide access to prisons and detention centers, especially those which are illegal and currently inaccessible to the international community, to UN bodies, such as the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, as well as other concerned international human rights and humanitarian organizations, to properly identify detainees, identify and prevent torture and extrajudicial executions.
- Issue legislation that facilitates the process of citizenship registration and grant more time for refugees and other displaced individuals to complete such registration if they wish to return to Syria and implement effective supervisory measures to ensure local authorities do not arbitrarily deny or prolong citizenship application processes.
- Terminate the arbitrary seizure of property based on alleged political dissent.
- Recognize the equality of all Syrians, regardless of ethnicity, in compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
- Conduct a review of national laws and repeal any provisions that directly or indirectly discriminate against Kurds and other ethnic minorities.
- Amend Article 3(a) of the Syrian Nationality Law to allow mothers to pass on their citizenship to their children.
- The Advocates for Human Rights
- Syrians for Truth and Justice
- Hevdestî-Synergy Association for the Victims in Northeastern Syria
- Human Rights Organization in Syria- Maf
- The Kurdish Organisation for Human Rights in Syria (DAD)
- PÊL – Civil Waves
- GAV for Relief and Development
- Shar for development