Widespread human rights violations continue in war-torn Syria despite a decrease in fighting between warring parties, according to a report [text, PDF] released Wednesday by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, an investigatory branch of the UN Human Rights Council [official websites]. The alleged violations, characterized by the report as “unthinkable crimes against civilians,” include “forced displacement, deliberate attacks against civilians, and the use of chemical weapons” such as sarin and weaponized chlorine. The report includes events occurring between March and July of this year [press release], a period of time that included a number of local truces between factions, including the so-called “Four Towns Agreement” [BBC report]. While acknowledging the positive trend in reduced fighting, the report says that such truces often lead to evacuations, or “forced displacement,” a war crime. “Warring parties must not only refrain from future agreements that forcibly displace civilians for political gains,” wrote Commissioner Karen AbuZayd [official profile], “but they must also ensure adequate protection for all internally displaced persons countrywide, including their rights to life, to adequate food, shelter and medical care, and ultimately their right to return.”
The war in Syria [JURIST backgrounder] continues to have a devastating impact on the country. Last week UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called on [JURIST report] forces fighting Islamic State insurgents to regain lost territory in Syria to avoid sacrificing lives of civilians still trapped in the areas. Also last week UNICEF voiced [JURIST report] its concern that children in war-torn countries, including Syria, have a lack of safe drinking water. Earlier in May the US House of Representatives passed a bill [JURIST report] to impose sanctions on supporters of Syria’s Assad regime. The same month Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported new evidence that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons in at least four recent attacks [JURIST report] targeting civilians.