“The Bitter Harvest “; A Report Documenting the Most Prominent Violations of Different Parties to Conflict in the Year 2020

The Violations Documentation Center (VDC) at the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) has released its annual periodic report “Bitter Harvest”, regarding the most significant patterns of violations committed by various parties to the conflict during the past year of 2020. where documented the parties to the conflict’s violations along with their breaches of the International Humanitarian Law and the principles of proportionality, necessity and distinction. In addition, the insecurity and widespread violations of the International Humanitarian Law caused by military operations and indiscriminate aerial bombardments and shelling.

The report reviewed the ongoing violations by the government agencies including torture, extrajudicial killing, enfocred disappearance, and preventing actions and commitments related to facilitating the passage of aid, relief teams and more. Furthermore, the report documented several patterns of violations by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) including arbitrary arrest that later took a turn towards enforced disappearance for most cases, and a marked increase of torture, forced recruitment, and child recruitment.

The report also highlighted the role of the pro-Turkish armed opposition factions and the violations they committed in areas in which the Kurdish component is the majority. These areas were exposed to an increase in killings, kidnapping, looting of lands and properties, forced eviction and the use of main stations, such as water and electricity, as war weapons.

The report also addressed the challenges that Syrians are facing due to the world pandemic “COVID-19” with the lack of resources, deterioration of the economy, 9 million Syrians under poverty and the lack of food security, a collapsing health sector, and a nationwide water crisis caused by the suspension, damage or use of many water treatment plants and networks as war weapons. Challenges also included overcrowded displacement camps and the lack of foundations maintaining  public health, social distancing and more.

Furthermore, the report stresses recommendations for various parties to the conflict for the immediate cease of any unlawful attack under the International Humanitarian Law against civilians or civilian objects or the indiscriminate use of weapons. That is in addition to committing to a permanent cease of fire and creating conditions to initiate the political transition in accordance with Security Council resolution 2254 (2015), which can fall in a time where there is a decline in violence in the country since the start of the pandemic COVID-19.

Recommendations also included taking effective steps in accordance with the international standards to close all unofficial and temporary detention centers and create radical reforms of prisons and official detention centers, the immediate and comprehensive cease of practices of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and all forms of isolated detention. That is in addition to recommendations regarding the reinforcement of Security Council resolution 2474 (2019) for the reveal of the fate of the missing and the immediate and unconditional release of the detainees and the abducted over peaceful exercise of all their basic rights.

Finally, the report called various parties to the conflict for the immediate cease of looting and confiscating civil properties, and returning them to their original owners. That is in addition to accountability procedures and disciplinary action or suspension towards perpetrators of responsible individuals, the compliance with customary international humanitarian law and the suspension of deliberate attacks on civilians.

To read the Full Report: