Latest News

Warring Parties Undermine Students’ Future in Yemen – new report

August 2020

Warring parties carried out more than 380 attacks impacting schools and educational facilities in Yemen between March 2015 and December 2019, Mwatana for Human Rights and Ceasefire Center for Civilian Rights said in a new report published today. Attacks and other abuses completely or partially destroyed dozens of schools, disrupted the educational process, and contributed to undermining students’ future in Yemen.

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Turkey orchestrating destruction, demographic change in northern Syria – new report

July 2020

Turkey’s occupation of Afrin in northwestern Syria is causing permanent changes to the demographic character of the area, according to a new report by the Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights and YASA e.V. – Kurdish Centre for Studies & Legal Consultancy.

The report, entitled Cultivating Chaos: Afrin after Operation Olive Branch, is based on more than 120 interviews conducted with individuals from Afrin since the area fell under Turkish control over two years ago, documenting violations including killings, arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, pillage, and attacks on livelihoods.

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In the name of national security, Iranians pay a heavy price – new report

June 2020

Measures taken in the name of national security and combating terrorism have led to grave and widespread violations of human rights in Iran, according to a new report published jointly by Minority Rights Group International and the Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights.

In the Name of Security: Human rights violations under Iran’s national security laws details how Iranian authorities have imprisoned, tortured and killed their own citizens in pursuit of a national security imperative that has dominated public life in Iran since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Those targeted for the worst treatment include political dissidents, ethnic and religious minorities, dual nationals, and migrants.

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Ceasefire partner addresses UN Security Council on South Sudan peace process

Patrick Gruban / CC BY-SA

23 June 2020   

The head of Ceasefire’s partner organisation in South Sudan presented a joint list of priorities for civilian protection to the United Nations Security Council today.  

Edmund Yakani, head of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation (CEPO), was invited to address the council remotely from Juba in a session that discussed the peace process in South Sudan by the current French Presidency of the council.  

The list of CEPO and ceasefire’s joint recommendations for civilian protection includes 

  • A proactive approach to early warning that identifies and addresses both the proximate and underlying structural causes of the outbreaks of violence that have blighted South Sudan since the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement was signed in December 2017 
  •  The immediate establishment of the three institutions of transitional justice stipulated in the September 2018 Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, namely the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing, the Hybrid Court for South Sudan and the Compensation and Reparation Authority.  
  • The continuing engagement and active support of the international community for South Sudan to deal with the direct and indirect effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. This support should explicitly address wider protection needs and not be focused exclusively on humanitarian issues 

Read CEPO and Ceasefire’s priorities for civilian protection in the South Sudanese conflict here.  

Watch Edmund Yakani’s presentation to the United Nations Security Council here.

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UK overseas operations bill: ‘Suppress the violations, not those who expose them’

March 2020

Described by defence ministers as an attack on ‘lawfare’, the UK government today introduced a new bill creating limits on accountability for violations of international humanitarian law and human rights committed by UK armed forces overseas. CEASEFIRE believes the proposals undermine the UK’s international obligations to suppress war crimes and the crime of torture.

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South Sudan: New unity government but worrying levels of violence

February 2020

Although recent developments in South Sudan including the formation of a government of national unity are positive, violence against civilians remains worryingly high and almost four million displaced have been unable to return to their homes.  

Ceasefire’s submission to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan focuses on violence related to cattle-raiding, widespread across much of the country, the role of land as a conflict resource and the consequent forced mass displacement of civilians in the context of the community-based violence that have characterised South Sudan’s civil war.  

The report of the UN Commission, issued ahead of the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council, expresses concern at the escalating toll of local conflicts across South Sudan, noting an almost 200% increase in civilian casualties between 2018 and 2019.  It accuses both government and opposition forces of deliberately starving civilians as a method of warfare in Western Bahr el Ghazal and Unity States.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan reported 152 incidences of violence which caused 531 deaths and 317 injuries between late February and May 2019.  

The commission reported that the some groups of cattle herders, motivated by local communitarian grievances, were mobilised by military and civil authorities, equipped with light and heavy weaponry and operated like organised militia groups in carrying out attacks.

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Two years after ‘liberation,’ civilians in Mosul denied justice, reparations – new report

January 2020

Over two years since the recapture of Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), Iraqi civilians have been largely denied the right to reparations they are owed by parties to the conflict, according to a new report by the Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights and Minority Rights Group International.

35,000 claims from victims of the war against ISIS in Mosul — including thousands who lost their homes or relatives as a result of bombardment by the US-led coalition – have now been lodged with the Iraqi government. Mosul served as the capital of the self-proclaimed ISIS caliphate for some three years. The intensity and length of the military campaign to defeat ISIS left much of the city reduced to rubble and caused between 9,000 to 11,000 civilian casualties. Airstrikes carried out by the international coalition were responsible for the second highest number of civilian deaths.

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Protecting civilians from explosive weapons in urban areas

November 2019

Over 20,000 civilians were killed or injured by explosive weapons in 2018, according to the 2019 report of the UN Secretary-General on protection of civilians in armed conflict. The year before, the number of civilians killed or injured by explosive weapons was over twice as great.

Download the full statement here

At the Vienna Conference on Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare in October 2019, participating states supported the initiative of a political declaration aimed at strengthening protection for civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, and a series of international consultations to draft the declaration are currently taking place.

The Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights works directly with civilians affected by conflict, including in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and South Sudan, many of whom have suffered from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. Based on this experience, Ceasefire’s guidelines have been drawn up to support the international agreement of a strong political declaration on explosive weapons which will be effective in improving civilian protection.

  1. The political declaration should avoid undercutting or diluting existing legally-binding obligations, or appearing to shift rules from the realm of obligations to that of ‘good practice’. The civilian death toll from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas is due first and foremost to a failure to implement existing international law duties, including (but not limited to) those under the Geneva Conventions and their 1977 Additional Protocols, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and customary international law.
  2. The declaration should reiterate that legal limits applicable to military operations include not just international criminal law standards on avoiding war crimes, but also the complete range of legal obligations on the conduct of hostilities, including the duty to take precautions in attack. Parties to conflict often assert that attacks are lawful because they do not intentionally target civilian objects and any expected civilian damage is proportional; however,they frequently violate the duty to take all feasible precautions to avoid or minimise civilian harm and/or deploy unguided bombs or projectiles or other explosive weapons with wide area effect in populated areas whose effect is indiscriminate.
  3. Consideration of the effects of explosive weapons in populated areas should be undertaken in the context of the wider military operation(s) of which they form part. Most civilian deaths and damage to civilian objects in recent conflicts have occurred in the context of sieges, including those in Aleppo, Eastern Ghouta, Raqqa, Mosul, Hodeidah, Taiz, Donetsk and Marawi. Explosive weapons are extensively used to lay and enforce sieges, frequently trapping large numbers of civilians in besieged areas,and in attempts to capture besieged towns and cities.
  4. Assessments of expected civilian deaths or injury or damage to civilian objects should include not just immediate direct effects but also the medium and longer-term effects of explosive remnants of war,and the reverberating effects of damage to vital civilian infrastructure.The standard for including reverberating effects in the assessment should be that they are ‘reasonably foreseeable’.
  5. Operational policies to limit the humanitarian impact of military operations in populated areas should address factors which have led to higher than expected rates of civilian casualties in recent conflicts, including:
    • the conduct of operations in urban localities where civilians are not immediately visible but which are known or suspected to have high population density;
    • rules of engagement and authorization procedures for the deployment of explosive weapons in dynamic targeting;
    • authorization for air support/ airstrikes called in by partner forces on the ground;
    • verification procedures for identification of objects benefitting from special protection, including hospitals, schools, religious institutions and other cultural property.
  6. The declaration should recognise the value of local civic and civil society efforts, including civil defence organisations and those facilitating voluntary movement of displaced persons, and emphasise the need to avoid obstructing, criminalizing or politicising humanitarian action.
  7. The declaration should reiterate that parties to conflict, including but not limited to parties on the ground, have a duty to carry out or otherwise facilitate effective, prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into civilian deaths and award reparation to civilians who have suffered violations.

Where parties to conflict are unable or unwilling to implement the above provisions, there should be a presumption against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

Taiz, Yemen ©anasalhajj / shutterstock.com

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Iraq joint statement: Stop the killing of activists

December 2019 update

Civilian activists across cities in central and southern Iraq have been targeted deliberately with live fire, bringing the death toll in the latest protests by early December to over 400, with thousands injured. The killings have been carried out by militia members of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and by Iraqi Security Forces, protestors report.

Read the joint appeal issued by CEASEFIRE and 14 other human rights organisations here: Authorities must immediately end the use of lethal force against protestors and stop targeting activists, journalists and the media

Read our October joint letter here: Freedom of speech and assembly under attack in Iraq

‘CEASEFIRE called for effective investigations into a wave of targeted assassinations by alleged PMF members a year ago’, said Executive Director Mark Lattimer. ‘The government’s failure to investigate and prosecute perpetrators means that the militias now feel they can shoot with impunity.’

Read the CEASEFIRE report in English here: Civilian Activists under Threat in Iraq

And in Arabic here نشطاء مدنيون تحت التهديد في العراق

Drawing on thousands of accounts of violations uploaded on CEASEFIRE’s violations reporting platform, the report details a pattern of attacks on civilian activists in 2018 including protestors, journalists and media workers, lawyers, women in public life, and other human rights defenders. In addition to the use of excessive force against protestors on the streets, the report documents a campaign of systematic death threats and premeditated assassinations.

Killings of unarmed protestors continue to be reported by official sources in Iraq as being carried out by ‘unknown assailants’. PMF militias aligned with Iran have, however, made little secret of their willingness to use force to end the protests.

Created in 2014 as an umbrella for militias fighting ISIS, the Hashd al-Sha’abi or Popular Mobilization Forces are now believed to number over 100,000 fighters. They include powerful militias supported by Iran such as the Badr Organisation, Kata’ib Hezbollah and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq. They were given official status by former prime minister Haider al-Abadi and now operate with the authority of the Iraqi state.

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Beyond the Veil: Women in Iran continue to face discrimination

September 2019

The human rights environment for women in Iran continues to be characterized by inequality and exclusion in all areas of Iranian society, says a group of human rights organizations in a comprehensive new report.

Beyond the Veil: Discrimination against women in Iran by the Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights, Minority Rights Group International and the Centre for Supporters of Human Rights (CSHR) delineates how Iranian women and girls face discrimination in all aspects of their lives, from participation in public life to access to education and employment, as well as in marriage and other family matters. In addition, the report highlights how the many ongoing efforts at reform within Iran have been obstructed, with recent protests by women activists against state repression being met by an escalation in official surveillance and intimidation.

ceasefireBeyond the Veil: Women in Iran continue to face discrimination
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