Refugees who returned to Syria were subjected to violations by government forces: HRW


Published: 2021-10-20 12:57

Last Updated: 2023-09-29 01:06

Refugees who returned to Syria were subjected to violations by government forces: HRW
Refugees who returned to Syria were subjected to violations by government forces: HRW

Wednesday, Human Rights Watch accused the Syrian regime forces and their militias of committing violations, including arbitrary arrest and torture, against refugees who returned to their country after suffering in the countries of asylum to which they fled to escape the battles and bombing.

In a report entitled "Our life is like death: Syrian refugees returned from Lebanon and Jordan" between 2017 and 2021, the organization warned that Syria "is not safe for return."

The organization interviewed 65 refugees and members of their families, including 21 people who were arbitrarily arrested or detained, 13 others who were tortured, three cases of kidnapping, five extrajudicial killings, 17 cases of enforced disappearance, and one case of sexual violence.

"The horrific accounts of torture, enforced disappearances and abuses of refugees who have returned to Syria clearly show that Syria is not safe for return," said Nadia Hardman, researcher for refugees and migrants at the organization.

She listed additional reasons, including "violations of property rights and other economic difficulties that make sustainable return impossible for many."

The Syrian conflict, since its outbreak in March 2011, has caused the displacement and displacement of more than half of the population inside and outside the country, including more than 6.6 million refugees, who fled mainly to neighboring countries, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

Some countries, such as Lebanon and even Denmark, are exerting pressure to deport Syrian refugees to their countries, under the pretext of the decline in the intensity of the fighting after the regime forces took control of large areas.

Refugees told the organization that Jordanian border guards told them that once they left for Syria, they could not return to Jordan before three to five years, which means “they will be denied the right to asylum if they are persecuted after returning to Syria.”

In Lebanon, pressures on Syrian refugees ranged from curfews, arrests, and deportations to raids and restrictions on residency transactions.

In a report last month, Amnesty International condemned the fact that dozens of refugees who have returned to Syria have been subjected to various forms of abuse at the hands of the Syrian security forces, including arbitrary detention, torture and even rape.

Human Rights Watch considered that "all countries should protect Syrians from returning to face violence and torture, and should even stop forced returns to Syria."

The organization quoted a 38-year-old refugee who returned from Lebanon to the Quneitra governorate in the south, as saying, "No one will be safe in Syria until the security services stop intimidating people."

"No country may force refugees to return to Syria as long as the Syrian government continues to practice widespread human rights violations," Hardman said.

"A decade later, returning refugees are still at risk of persecution at the hands of the same government from which they fled," she added.