« The German Foreign Ministry has issued an assessment report on Syria titled “The State of Syria,” which evaluates the circumstances in Syria for refugees. This annual report, typically prepared by the ministry, delves into the humanitarian, economic, and security conditions in Syria.
As per the information from the Tagesschau website, the report concludes that a safe return for refugees cannot currently be guaranteed. It also indicates that the human rights situation remains disastrous with serious violations being part of everyday life in Syria. Such violations include arbitrary arrests, collective torture, and executions, in addition to the severely poor economic condition and widespread hunger.
The report’s significance is amplified as the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees and administrative courts rely on it to make decisions regarding granting Syrians asylum or protection.
In its analysis, the German Foreign Ministry also incorporated reports from the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Human Rights Watch, the Syrian Network for Human Rights, and other human rights sources.
The report’s key findings are as follows:
- There is no safe return possible. The report concludes that there is no safe area in Syria, whether it is under the control of the Syrian regime or the opposition. It also highlighted the killing of over a thousand civilians in Syria in 2022 according to data from the foreign ministry.
- Mines and explosive ordnance pose significant threats. The report also talks about mines and explosive debris prevalent in agricultural lands, which has caused 12,350 incidents between 2019 and 2022.
- Arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances, and torture are widespread, occurring throughout Syria. Systematic torture in prisons and regular killings are reportedly carried out by security and intelligence agencies.
- Opposition and media repression continues. The report mentions that systematic arrests and persecution against opponents of the Syrian regime’s authority continue, and that the press freedom is heavily restricted in areas under the regime’s control.
- The dire economic situation and widespread hunger are critical issues. The cost of food is now eight times what it was in 2020, and more than 90% of the population lives under the poverty line, with 68% at risk of starvation.
- Mandatory conscription prevails throughout the country. The report discusses forced conscription in areas under Assad’s militia control, where the only escape is either to move to areas outside their control or leave the country.
In conclusion, the report asserts three primary outcomes:
- The entirety of Syria remains unsafe for the return of refugees.
- The guarantee or verification of a safe return to any area in Syria for any group of people cannot be assured.
- Even areas in Syria without active combat, where public life can resume, the overall security situation remains volatile, and the humanitarian and economic conditions in Syria remain exceedingly dire.
The Free Syrian Lawyers Association (FSLA) extends its commendation for the report issued by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, acknowledging and endorsing the facts therein. The FSLA team places significant value on the insights offered by the report and appreciates the professional methodology adopted. The presented information and facts align with our legal perspective regarding the human rights situation in Syria and the non-existence of safe conditions for the return of Syrian refugees.
FSLA has previously published various reports and legal studies addressing the refugee return issue. Among these is a study titled “Go back to Hell, we are waiting for you” and an official statement concerning a relevant conference. We also produced a legal study on the Lebanese government’s strategy to repatriate Syrian refugees from Lebanon, known as “Voluntary Return or Security Return.”
We at FSLA confirm our continued collaboration with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry, offering legal contributions to the justice-seeking efforts in this context. The Periodic Investigation Committee’s report No. A/HRC/52/69, titled “Continued perpetration of patterns of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and unfair trials by the Syrian regime,” is considered one of the primary sources that the German Foreign Ministry’s report relies on.
FSLA has contributed by providing the commission with several legal reports concerning documented cases of detainees held by the Syrian regime, who have suffered severe human rights violations such as arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture, and extrajudicial execution. These cases are presented as strategic communications, signifying evidence of a systematic policy and a pattern of behavior followed by the Syrian regime against its opponents.
Moreover, FSLA’s legal team has conducted a legal analysis of certain decrees, laws, and legislation issued by the Syrian regime, all of which represent violations of human rights in Syria.