The Syrian Association for Citizens’ Dignity welcomes Denmark’s decision of retreating from withdrawing residence permits from Syrian refugees, and we express our appreciation for this important and influential step. This development represents a positive step towards the embodiment of human rights values and adherence to international laws and norms. This new step reflects the determination to correct the previous mistake and work to correct the policies related to refugees’ rights.
The recognition of the Refugee Appeals Board that the decisions to revoke residencies were based on erroneous grounds and misjudgment and are inconsistent with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights reflects wise thinking and wise decisions. This statement also confirms the existing commitment to the provisions of international agreements, especially Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the rights of refugees and guarantees them adequate protection.
The unjustified withdrawal of residency from Syrians who came from some of the so-called “safe” areas in Syria is an unfair decision against these refugees. Accordingly, this regression reflects a deeper understanding of the conditions and risks faced by refugees, and reaffirms the need to fulfill the state’s obligations to provide protection and safety for those in need.
This regression came after internal discussions that lasted for about three years between the “Danish Refugee Council” (DRC) and the “Appeals Board”. This decision will include all refugees whose residency has been withdrawn, but Denmark has confirmed that it will not accept new asylum applications for those coming from areas it classifies as “safe” unless there is a real danger to their lives.
The Syrian Association for Citizens’ Dignity stresses the importance of continuous dialogue and cooperation in dealing with humanitarian issues related to Syrian refugees. This step enhances the chances of achieving understanding and constructive communication, which contributes to strengthening relations between countries and enhancing international cooperation. Promoting security and human rights must be at the core of decisions and policies.
We hope that this step will be the beginning of further efforts to promote the rights of refugees and provide the necessary support to those in need. We look forward to seeing more positive efforts by Denmark and the international community in achieving justice and protection for all refugees and migrants, and ensuring safe and decent conditions for their lives.
The Syrian Association for Citizens’ Dignity has worked in this regard for years, starting with the analysis that confirms that Denmark is setting a dangerous precedent, and then to the letters that were sent to the Danish Minister of Immigration and Integration, where SACD warned in a full briefing that Denmark’s decision regarding Syrian refugees violated the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights and EU assessments and UNHCR thresholds.
She pointed out that Denmark’s decision to withdraw protection from Syrian refugees from Damascus and its countryside contradicts the official position of the European Commission, and that it is a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as the protection thresholds of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
In direct communication with the Syrian Association for Citizens’ Dignity, the Danish Minister of Immigration and Integration, Mattias Tesfaye, did not succeed in adequately justifying this decision or even answering some of the main questions that placed Denmark among the countries that exert pressure on Syrian refugees to return to Syria under the presence of the unstable and perhaps deadly situation, in the Assad-controlled areas. At the time, the Danish authorities were considering extending the assessment of “security conditions that are significantly becoming better to allow for returns,” which had been used to deny protection to Syrian refugees from Damascus and its countryside, as well as the regions of Hasakah and Aleppo.
The Syrian Association for Citizens’ Dignity also worked on preparing a variety of meetings and conferences with experts and jurists, who were interviewed for the Danish Immigration Service’s report on Damascus, and who in turn condemned the misuse of their interviews, and most of them confirmed their refusal to cooperate with the Danish Immigration Service in the future or they will cooperate but under strict conditions to prevent misuse of their interviews.
According to the responses of researchers and experts on Syrian affairs, who were interviewed by the Danish Immigration Service for the “Country of Origin” report on Damascus and its countryside, the decision to withdraw temporary protection from Syrian refugees coming from these areas is not based at all on the information they provided.
The Syrian Association for Citizen’s Dignity conducted several interviews with people whose residency was revoked, and they rejected the decision. They prosecuted the decision, and the court accepted the appeal decision. Among these people was Abdul Raouf Ahmed, one of the Syrian refugees whose protection has been withdrawn by the Danish authorities. The Syrian Association for Citizens’ Dignity conducted an exclusive interview with him in which he talked about the reasons for withdrawing protection from him and its effects on his life.
At that time, he said: “I refused the decision because it was as sending me to death.” He talked about his fears in case he was deported to Syria, saying: “The court thought that the conditions in Syria were the same as in Europe, so it withdrew the right to protection in the beginning, ignoring that the Assad regime does not take into account the elderly or children, as he arrests, tortures and kills people, regardless of their age.” He added that a number of refugees have appealed their case and obtained the right of political asylum again, and this is what happened with Abdul Raouf as well, as he got a new hope at that time to continue his life away from Assad’s tyranny.
At the Copenhagen Conference, we emphasized that withdrawing protection from Syrian refugees in Denmark and abroad is a dangerous precedent with far-reaching impact, and serves Russia’s interests in the first place. Over the years, Russia’s efforts were not limited to killing, displacing, and destroying, but also showed an intensification of its attempts to achieve its gains through normalization and changing the context in Syria.
Russia has focused its efforts on pushing European countries and the European Union to take policies that serve its interests, including adopting the policy of returning Syrian refugees disregarding the reality of the security situation in their country. It also promoted ideas of financing reconstruction before achieving a comprehensive political solution in Syria. Russia seeks to assure that Syria is safe, but it has not been able to convince the world that it is able to provide a safe environment for the return of Syrians.
We, at the Syrian Association for Citizens’ Dignity, strongly express our rejection of any attempt to force refugees and displaced Syrians to return at this time. The lack of a safe environment in Syria so far means that any forced return exposes them to danger and threat.
Basing on our reports and surveys, which are based on information from inside Syria, we feel obligated to clarify the bitter truth. These reports and questionnaires show the existence of a state of continuous insecurity and systematic oppression to which people in the areas controlled by the Syrian regime are subjected.
We are dealing and cooperating seriously with the urgent need to ensure a dignified return of all Syrian refugees and displaced persons to their country, but this return must be safe, voluntary and dignified within the standards of protection and safety in line with the demands and definition of the displaced Syrians themselves. This step is an effective and sustainable way to achieve our main goal: creating a safe environment for the dignified return of the Syrians.