Skip to main content

Legal Help | Ayuda


Syria - Universal Periodic Review - Civil and Political Rights - July 2021

Date: July 15, 2021
Country: Syrian Arab Republic
Type: Intl Mechanism Submission
Issues: Crimes Against Humanity, Genocide, War Crimes, Enforced Disappearance
Mechanism: Universal Periodic Review
Report Type: Stakeholder Report
View and Download Document:

The Advocates for Human Rightstogether with Syrians for Truth and Justice, submitted a stakeholder report relating to civil and political rights in Syria for the 40th session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review. 

Since Turkey began supporting the Syrian National Army in northern Syria and occupying the Kurdish-majority regions of Afrin,Tal Abyad, and Ras al-Ain, the local population has suffered substantial human rights abusesThe Syrian government has done little to prevent these abuses. These human rights violations include forced long-term displacement, looting and illegal property seizure, harassment, forced disappearances and arbitrary arrests, violent attacks, lack of access to drinking water, illegal transfer and detention in Turkey, and contractual exploitation of Syrian mercenaries abroad. The Syrian government further imposes barriers to civilians enjoying access to economic, social and cultural rights. The Syrian Law of Personal Status, for example, denies women access to their husbands' Death Statements that allow for remarriage and determination of heirship. Syrian authorities are facilitating the demolition and confiscation of religious sites of significant religious and cultural value to minority groups, including the Yazidis and Kurds. Authorities have also systematically compelled Yazidis to convert to Islam, including one report describing coerced conversion during a detainment interrogation by SNA forces. Since 2019, these human rights violations, violence, and instability in the AfrinTal-Abyad, and Ras al-Ain regions have forced thousands of civilians to flee, causing them to become internally displaced. 

The authors of the report suggest the following recommendations for Syria: 

  • Amend the Syrian Penal Code to include appropriate penalties for war crimes in line with the Geneva Conventions. 

  • Amend the Syrian Constitution to establish the supremacy of international law and obligations over domestic law, including those set forth in human rights conventions to which Syria is a party. 

  • Bring criminal charges against members of any armed group or private or political entity that has recruited or transported groups or individuals, including children, to fight as mercenaries in Libya or elsewhere. 

  • Investigate, prosecute, and sanction alleged violations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations by mercenary recruiters and related actors from Turkey and the SNA, as well as by the Syrian official army or any affiliated armed group or entity. 

  • Demand that Turkey and the Syrian National Army return real and personal property seized from all civilians, especially members of the Kurdish minority, in Northern Syria. 

  • Immediately cease all looting of civilian property, including religious sites, and ensure proper return of such property to its rightful owners. Hold offenders accountable.