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A-HRC-21-50

A-HRC-21-50

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Published by: Robert Mackey on Aug 15, 2012
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01/14/2013

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Human Rights Council
Twenty-first session
Agenda item 4
Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention
Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic
*
Summary
The situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic has deterioratedsignificantly since 15 February 2012. Armed violence increased in intensity and spread tonew areas. Active hostilities raged between Government forces (and the
Shabbiha
) and anti-Government armed groups. Sporadic clashes between the armed actors evolved intocontinuous combat, involving more brutal tactics and new military capabilities on bothsides. The level of armed violence varied throughout the country.During the reporting period, the commission of inquiry determined that the intensityand duration of the conflict, combined with the increased organizational capabilities of anti-Government armed groups, had met the legal threshold for a non-international armedconflict. The commission therefore applied both international humanitarian law andinternational human rights law in its assessment of the actions of the parties to thehostilities.The commission found reasonable grounds to believe that Government forces andthe
Shabbiha
had committed the crimes against humanity of murder and of torture, war crimes and gross violations of international human rights law and internationalhumanitarian law, including unlawful killing, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, sexualviolence, indiscriminate attack, pillaging and destruction of property. The commissionfound that Government forces and
Shabbiha
members were responsible for the killings inAl-Houla.The commission confirms its previous finding that violations were committed pursuant to State policy. Large-scale operations conducted in different governorates, their similar modus operandi, their complexity and integrated military-security apparatus indicatethe involvement at the highest levels of the armed and security forces and the Government.The
Shabbiha
were identified as perpetrators of many of the crimes described in the presentreport. Although the nature, composition and hierarchy of the
Shabbiha
remains unclear,credible information led to the conclusion that they acted in concert with Government
*
*
The annexes to the present report are reproduced as received, in the language of submission only.
A
/HRC/21/50
Advance Edited Version
Distr.: General15 August 2012Original: English
 
A/HRC/21/50
forces.The commission found reasonable grounds to believe that war crimes, includingmurder, extrajudicial execution and torture, had been perpetrated by organized anti-Government armed groups. Although not a party to the Geneva Conventions, these groupsmust abide by the principles of international humanitarian law. The violations and abusescommitted by anti-Government armed groups did not reach the gravity, frequency and scaleof those committed by Government forces and the
Shabbiha
.Both groups violated the rights of children.The commission is unaware of efforts meeting international standards made byeither the Government or anti-Government armed groups to prevent or punish the crimesdocumented in the present report.The lack of access significantly hampered the commission’s ability to fulfil itsmandate. Its access to Government officials and to members of the armed and securityforces was negligible. Importantly, victims and witnesses inside the country could not beinterviewed in person.A confidential list of individuals and units believed to be responsible for crimesagainst humanity, breaches of international humanitarian law and gross human rightsviolations will be submitted to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights atthe close of the commission’s current mandate, in September 2012.The commission reiterates that the best solution is a negotiated settlement involvingan inclusive and meaningful dialogue among all parties, leading to a political transition thatreflects the legitimate aspirations of all segments of Syrian society, including ethnic andreligious minorities.
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A/HRC/21/50
Contents
 ParagraphsPage
I.Introduction..............................................................................................................1–135A.Challenges........................................................................................................475B.Methodology....................................................................................................8135II.Context.....................................................................................................................14–366A.Political background........................................................................................14–206B.Military situation..............................................................................................21–317C.Socioeconomic and humanitarian situation.....................................................32–369III.Findings....................................................................................................................37–13010A.Casualties.........................................................................................................38–4010B.Special inquiry into Al-Houla..........................................................................41–5010C.Unlawful killing...............................................................................................51–6212D.Arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance.............................................63–7314E.Torture and other forms of ill-treatment..........................................................748915F.Indiscriminate attacks......................................................................................90–9517G.Sexual violence................................................................................................96–10217H.Violations of children’s rights.........................................................................103–11518I.Attacks on protected persons and objects........................................................116–12519J.Pillaging and destruction of property...............................................................126–13020IV.Responsibility...........................................................................................................131–14221A.State responsibility...........................................................................................132–13321B.Responsibility of anti-Government armed groups...........................................13422C.Individual responsibility..................................................................................135–13622D.Command responsibility..................................................................................137–14222V.Conclusions and recommendations..........................................................................143–15623AnnexesI.Correspondence with the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic.................................................26II.Applicable law....................................................................................................................................45III.Military situation in the Syrian Arab Republic..................................................................................60IV.Special inquiry into Al-Houla.............................................................................................................64V.Unlawful killing..................................................................................................................................69VI.Indiscriminate attacks.........................................................................................................................79VII.Arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances..............................................................................83VIII.Torture and other forms of ill-treatment.............................................................................................86
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