Rule of Law or Rule of Terror: Living under ISIS
The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic has published a new Report based on first-hand victim and witness accounts describing the impact of ISIS’s rule on their lives.
According to the Report, ISIS expand its authority, attract recruits and threaten any individuals, groups or States that challenge its ideology by publicizing its brutality. However, report by bringing to light the voices of Syrians over 300 interviews with men, women and children who fled or who are living in ISIS-controlled areas, try to reveal the fear among the civilians.
Report underlines that many residents of ISIS-held areas complained of the brutality of violent acts perpetrated under the guise of corporal hudud punishments based on the group’s radical interpretation of Shariah law. For example, offences such as smoking cigarettes or theft are punished by lashings and amputations.
LAW of TERROR
Not only the punishment but also the proceedings are arbitrary and outlaw. According to the Report:
“Victims of ISIS punishments described being subjected to a system based on the principle that you are guilty unless you can prove your innocence. Corporal punishments are imposed during public events in an effort to deter those who may oppose the group’s rule and to spread terror among the civilian population.”
To this end, there is a rule of terror rather than rule of law in areas controlled and ruled by ISIS. The underlying reason for the brutal nature and overall scale of abuses and human right violations is “to reinforce the group’s absolute monopoly on political and social life to enforce compliance and conformity among communities under their control.”
- The rise of ISIS in Syria
- Impact on civilian life
- Attacks on the civilian population
- Violations against women
- Violations against children
- Violations committed during ISIS military assaults
More importantly, Report concludes with several recommendations to terminate the rule of terror under ISIS in Syria, addressing those actors:
- The Government of the Syrian Arab Republic,
- All parties to the conflict,
- The international community,
- Influential states
- Humanitarian agencies.
Report recommend the Government of Syria to honour its binding legal obligation to protect its citizens from crimes against humanity and other grave violations.
In case of influential states, Report recommend to
“Cease any transfer, supply, or selling of arms to actors in Syria if there is a risk that they will be used in the commission of crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, attacks against civilian objects or civilians, or other war crimes;
Exert influence over armed groups to take appropriate measures ensuring that they abide by the obligations set out in Security Council Resolutions 2139, 2165, 2170 and 2178, in particular through the cessation of funding and trade with ISIS and individuals affiliated with the armed group.”
To end the reign of terror, international society also has to engage international accountability mechanisms, including the International Criminal Court, to hold individuals, including ISIS commanders, responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.