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According to international law, a situation of “armed conflict” is reached when a certain level of protracted violence is being used between two conflicting parties. These parties can either be two States (international armed conflict) or a State and a non-state armed group (non-international armed conflict). Contemporary conflict might, however, involve a coalition of States intervening in a third State to fight a myriad of non-state actors. Situations of occupation are also considered as a form of international armed conflict (such as the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory).
During armed conflicts, different types of international norms are applicable depending on the situation on the ground. International Humanitarian Law (IHL), which includes the Four Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols as well as the Hague Regulations, aims at limiting the effect of the armed conflict on vulnerable populations, such as civilians or wounded combatants, and at restraining the means and methods of combats parties may use.
However, Human Rights Law applies at all times, including in times of armed conflict, and parties having control over territories and populations are bound to ensure the respect of fundamental rights of all individuals under their jurisdiction, without any discrimination.
Ranging from the wars in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq and the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, the Arab world is a region particularly affected by armed conflict. Therefore, Alkarama regularly documents conflict-related human rights abuses and violations of IHL such as extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, widespread use of torture committed by all parties, as well as other abuses such as the forced conscription of children by non-state actors.
On 3 February 2017, Alkarama raised the case of 15 women and children, who, on 29 January 2017, were killed in a military operation in the Al Bayda Governorate in Yemen by American and Emirati military forces, with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (SRSUMX), Dr Agnes Callamard.
On the morning of 10 January 2017, as children were making their way to the Al Fallah Model School in the town of Bani Mesar in the Nihm District of Sana’a Governorate, the Saudi-led coalition striked the town, killing a school teacher and two students.
On 25 October 2011, Syrian political activist Mahmoud Al Merhi was arrested at an Air Force Intelligence checkpoint in Homs and remains disappeared since.
Nader Snoussi Ali Al Omrani, a 44-year-old well respected religious scholar, was abducted on 6 October 2016 in Tripoli by several members of the RADA forces, which pledged allegiance to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). His family has not heard from him since; however, they fear he was killed while secretly detained following the release of a video in which a young man confesses to his execution.
Between July and September 2014, Mohammad Al Janabi, Imad Al Janabi and Hisham Al Masari were in their respective houses in Latifiya and Mahmoudiyah when officers of the 17th Division of the Iraqi army, a key force in the fight against the Islamic State (IS), broke in and arrested them. The day of their arrest was the last time their relatives could see them, as they remain disappeared up until today.
On 22 September 2016, Mohamad Al Souki, a Syrian refugee arrested in late August in Sir El Danniyeh, north of Lebanon, by officers of the Military Intelligence for “not possessing a valid Lebanese residence permit”, reappeared after a month of disappearance. That day, upon information received by a former detainee, a notary public went to the premises of the military police at the Military Court in Beirut and received official confirmation by the authorities that Al Souki was held there.
Between May and June 2015, Ahmad Al Hajjar, Ahmad and Khalid Al Dulaimi disappeared after their arrest at checkpoints controlled by State-supported Hezbollah brigade. Displaced from their hometowns of Mosul and Ramadi, cities then under the Islamic State (IS)'s rule, they were suspected of being its "supporters" and brought to unknown locations.
On 8 June 2014, Dawood Al Issawi was in his home with his family when a patrol of police officers and militia men broke in, arrested him and took him to an unknown location. This was the last time his family saw him, as he remains unforcedly disappeared until today.
On 19 August 2015, Waee Al Jabouri, lawyer and head of a human rights NGO, left his house in the morning and never came back. He disappeared after his arrest at a nearby checkpoint of the State sponsored militia Liwa Al Sadr. Concerned over his case, Alkarama and the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights sent his case to the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) hoping that this mechanism for the protection for human rights will help locate him.