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Rights group urges Egypt to cease unlawfully detaining Syrian refugees

Egypt's treatment of Syrian refugees is a violation of international law, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported [text, PDF] Wednesday. Hundreds of Syrians have fled conflict only to be abused and discriminated against, including arbitrary detainment that for some has resulted in forced deportation right back to Syria, AI reported. Others are reportedly risking their lives to leave Egypt by sea for Europe. AI recommended that Egypt "immediately release individuals arrested on suspicion of attempting 'illegal migration,'" because their release has already been ordered by the public prosecutor, and they are not being charged with any crime, making their continued detention arbitrary and unlawful. AI urged Egypt to ensure that all arrested and detained refugees have access to due process and to medical care. AI said that those fleeing Syria are refugees under the 1951 Convention or the 1969 OAU Convention [text, PDFs] and that "Egypt has an obligation to provide protection to refugees arriving to its territory."

The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups first began protesting the regime of Assad. Last week Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] reported [text] that rebel fighters in Syria committed war crimes by killing at least 190 civilians and abducting more than 200 during an offensive against pro-regime villages that took place of August 4. In September the UN called for [JURIST report] an end to weapons being supplied to both Syria's government and rebels. JURIST Guest Columnist Patricio Galella argues [JURIST op-ed] that if diplomacy with Syria fails, and the UN Security Council is deadlocked, states must either violate international law by using force without Security Council authorization, or stay still and confirm the weakness of the UN system of collective security. Rights groups accused [JURIST report] the Syrian government of responsibility for August 21 chemical weapon attacks, which allegedly involved the use of sarin nerve gas. Syria's main opposition group in August urged the UN [JURIST report] to probe numerous massacres they say were committed during Ramadan by forces loyal to Assad. JURIST Guest Columnist Paul Juzdan argues [JURIST op-ed] that even if the UN Security Council decides to intervene in Syria, unilateral intervention would violate international law.

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