Geneva- Following their return to regime-controlled areas in Syria, hundreds of Syrian refugees have been arrested, tortured or killed by the Syrian regime forces, according to the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.
Refusing asylum applications or slowing down reunification processes for refugees in host countries has been going on a systematic basis, becoming a policy, and thus exposing refugees to gross violations, warns Euro-Med Monitor in a statement today.
There has been a relative increase in the number of refugees returning to Syria recently, particularly from Europe, reported the Euro-Med, with the rights organization further warning that in most cases, Syrians return home due to rejection of asylum applications by host countries.
Among other things, this rejection means forcing refugees to return to their country of origin, while delays in reunification procedures - which usually takes up to a year and a half - have already caused much trouble to refugees.
Other delays include receiving health care, which may take up to a month due to prolonged documentation procedures. Some refugees return to Syria because they find it hard to integrate in host communities.
Some of these refugees have been killed upon return to the regime-controlled areas, explains Euro-Med, pointing out that “recently four people were killed in Syrian military prisons due to torture and ill-treatment”. Two of these come from Hama while the other two are originally from Damascus.
One of these four returned from Germany, arriving in Damascus. Following eight months in prison, his body was found lying dead on the street.
The Syrian police detained an elderly man who was returning from Sweden to Syria, interrogated him, confiscated his passport to prevent him from traveling. They also detained a young man who was returning from Germany to Damascus at the immigration office at Damascus airport. This young man was forced into disappearance in a secret prison for over a month, during which he was subjected to all kinds of torture and cruel treatment.
Refugees do not only return from Germany, but also from several other countries including Finland, Denmark, Greece, Sweden, Jordan and others. 14,000 refugees and migrants in Greece returned to their home last year.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Denmark announced that a number of refugees decided to return home because of issues related to family reunification and the nature of life in these countries.
Many Syrian refugees residing in Jordan have returned home during 2017, with reports suggesting that the Jordanian authorities deported some families. More than 400 Syrian refugees returned from Jordan to Syria every month in the first half of 2017, while reasons for their deportation by the Jordanian authorities remain unknown.
Jordan has received over 1,000,000 Syrian refugees during the past years following the conflict in Syria, and such deportations were sudden. Such deportations violate the provisions of the Arab Charter on Human Rights relating to collective expulsion, to which Jordan is a party.
Forcible deportation of Syrian refugees by host countries violates the principle of non-refoulement in international law, which “forbids a country receiving asylum seekers from returning them to a country in which they would be in likely danger of persecution.”
The European Convention on Human Rights further prohibits the deportation of persons, including convicted criminals, to a country where they may face the risk of torture and murder.
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor calls on the Syrian authorities to put a prompt end to these violations, allow Syrians returning from host countries to enter and stay in the country without fear of persecution.
Euro-Med Monitor also calls on the international community to exert pressure on the Syrian Government to allow these refugees to return safely without subjecting them to torture or degrading treatment.
Euro-Med Monitor extends its call to countries receiving refugees and asylum seekers to take into account that Syria is still a war-torn country which is unsafe for refugees. Therefore, these countries are urged to facilitate asylum applications and end their policy of delaying family reunifications.