The U.N. human rights office condemns rampant human rights violations in Daraa Governorate in southwest Syria by both government and so-called non-state actors. The agency accuses both parties of flaunting the reconciliation agreement implemented 10 months ago.

The reconciliation agreement between the Syrian Government and armed rebel groups was supposed to bring peace to Syria’s Daraa Governorate, which is located near the Jordanian border. Following the agreement last July, most people who had been displaced by the conflict returned to their places of origin.

But their hopes for a better more secure life has been shattered. The U.N. human rights office says civilians rushed home without knowing what decisions affecting them had been made in the deal. Spokeswoman Marta Hurtado says her agency fears the agreement may not have been in full conformity with international law.

This, she says, appears to have opened the floodgates to widespread abuse.

Photo released July 17, 2018 by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows a
Photo released July 17, 2018 by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows a general view of Tell al-Haara, from the highest hill in the southwestern Daraa province, Syria.

“The U.N. Human Rights Office has received a number of worrying reports of human rights violations and offenses by state and non-state actors, including executions, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, looting and seizure of property. Access to adequate housing, water, education and other basic needs also remains difficult for many,” she said.

Hurtado says efforts by members of armed groups and civilians to take positions in government entities have been violently rebuffed. She says U.N. monitors have documented 11 cases where people wanting to participate in civilian local councils or military or security forces have been killed. She adds they appear to have been targeted killings.

She says the U.N. also has received reports that at least 380 people have been arrested or detained, some reportedly on suspicion of terrorism. Hurtado says 150 were released after a few days in detention. The others, she says, have been subjected to enforced disappearances. She notes many families in Dar’a have limited or no information about the fate of their missing relatives.

The U.N. human rights office is urging the government to take all necessary steps to protect the human rights of all people in areas under its control. It says the authorities must ensure that individuals arrested in connection with the armed conflict or on criminal charges receive a just and fair trial.