Detention in the Syrian Arab Republic: A Way Forward
This report demonstrates that civilians were not only the unintentional victims of violence, but often have been deliberately targeted through unlawful means and methods of warfare. Arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, torture, and sexual and gender-based violence have all been used against thousands of persons in detention. Vital civilian infrastructure has been decimated by repeated attacks on medical facilities, schools and markets. Humanitarian aid has been instrumentalised as a weapon of war with siege warfare and denial of lifesaving assistance used to compel civilian communities and parties to the conflict alike to surrender or starve.
Despite this range of violations, Syrian victims have been denied any modicum of justice. This report signals the Commission’s intention to help victims obtain justice, to pursue this task vigorously in view of the evolving situation on the ground in Syria and the various ongoing efforts to bring parties to the conflict to the negotiating table. These developments provide new challenges, but also opportunities to pursue justice for victims. They will further require, however, an affirmation by all that victims’ demands for justice and accountability remain a central component of any negotiated settlement, and in any durable solution to achieve peace, and that there can be no trade-off between this goal and a viable political solution.
CIC Senior Fellow Hanny Megally is a Commissioner of the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic.