Syrian refugees who returned to Syria after seeking refuge in another country have been tortured, raped and taken away by Syrian security forces, according to a report published on Tuesday by Amnesty International,
The report, titled “You’re Going to Your Death,” documents 24 instances of violence or arbitrary detention against Syrian refugees who returned to Syria. In one instance, a Syrian security officer at the border with Lebanon called a returning refugee a “terrorist,” stating, “Syria is not a hotel that you leave and return to when you want,” before raping the woman and her five-year-old daughter.
The report also documents 33 instances of torture or poor treatment during detention after returning to Syria. One refugee recounts being electrocuted between his eyes. Additionally, there are 27 documented disappearances of refugees, ranging in length from one week to four years. One refugee stated that his family thought he was dead and held a funeral for him during the time he was taken away.
The report makes the following suggestion to European nations who have “[put] pressure on refugees from Syria to go home”:
European governments should grant refugee status (rather than subsidiary protection status) to people who have left Syria and are now, or have been in the past, seeking asylum, without any restriction to the right to seek asylum, and maintain protection to Syrian refugees living in Europe. They should also reconsider assessments designating parts of Syria as safe and include in the safety assessment criteria based on the risks of human rights violations committed by any actors. European and other governments operating resettlement programmes should increase resettlement commitments for Syrian refugees and provide complementary pathways to protection, including community sponsorship.