4557 Cases of Arbitrary Arrest recorded in the First Half of 2016
SNHR has published its monthly special report documenting the arbitrary arrest cases by the conflict parties in Syria for the month of June.
The report asserts that SNHR abides by the highest standards for documentation, and notes the challenges that the detention documentation encounters. One of the most notable challenges is the families’ reluctance to cooperate and reveal any information on their family members’ arrest even secretively and especially if the arrested individual was a female due to a prevalent notion among the Syrian society that doing so would result in more torture and risks.
Also, the report notes that The international community’s and the United Nations’, in all of its organs, failure to press on the Syrian authorities to release even one case (including those whose sentences are over), and even prisoners of conscience, was one of the reasons the Syrian society believe it is useless to cooperate in the documentation process. Most of the releases were part of exchange deals with the armed opposition.
Furthermore, the report says that SNHR possesses lists of more than 117,000 detainees, including children and women, it should be noted that we estimate that the actual number of detainees have exceeded 215,000; 99% of them are being detained mainly by government forces. These number don’t include detainees over criminal charges, and include arrests that happened as part of the internal armed conflict and mainly over the opposition activity against the ruling authorities. Furthermore, The Syrian government denies that it made any arrests or executed any abductions when asked by the detainees’ families.
The report highlights the mounting number of arrests which were, according to the report, due to many reasons such as the fact that Many arrested individuals weren’t arrested because of a crime they committed, but because their relatives’ involvement with armed opposition factions or providing humanitarian aids. Also, most of the arrests are being conducted randomly and involve people who weren’t involved in the popular protests, relief, or even military activity. In addition, there are many government-forces-affiliated entities that are authorized to make arrests, many of these entities make arrests without checking with government forces or the judicial authorities to which these entities are affiliated. Also, these entities have its own list of detention centers that are not subject to any judicial supervision. The detainees inside these detention centers are not being treated in accordance with the stated Syrian laws.
The report documents no less than 4457 arbitrary arrests in the first half of 2016 including 3151 by government forces while 779 arrests were executed by ISIS and 168 arrests by Al-Nussra Front. Additionally, armed opposition factions arrested 96 individuals and Self-management forces arrested 363 individuals.
The report also recorded 739 arbitrary arrests in the month of June and said that arbitrary arrests in June included many widespread arrests of government employees by government forces. Also, government forces arrested students from areas out of its control. These arrests take place as the detainees are passing government-forces-affiliated checkpoints at entry points to areas under government forces where these people are either going to collect their salary or to take exams.
Additionally, government forces carried out in June widespread arrests of civilians who are heading to Lebanon as they are passing from the Lebanese-Syrian borders. These arrests included particularly civilians residing in the cities of Damascus suburbs, which are not under the control of government forces, such as Al-Zabadani, Douma, and Madaya.
Furthermore, ISIS continues to enforce its policy of arbitrary arrests against civilians in its areas. The arrests included those who violated the organization’s forcibly-imposed regulations, owners of phone shops and internet cafes, and civilians who are trying to flee ISIS-held areas to areas under the control of armed opposition.
In contrast, Self-management forces also continues its policy of arbitrary arrests and enforced-disappearance against civilians and political and media activists who oppose its views in its areas. The arrests were concentrated in Al-Hasaka city and Ifreen city in the suburbs of Aleppo governorate.
Moreover, the report records a rise in the rates of the arrests carried out by Al-Nussra Front against media activists, and activists in general, in Idlib governorate, civilians who are related to individuals working with various armed opposition factions and also against elements of armed opposition factions.
The report recorded that 739 individuals were arrested at least in June including 433 by government forces as follows: 413 men, eight children, and 12 women.
Additionally, Self-management forces arrested 41 individuals as follows: 32 men, four children, and five women.
According to the report, armed opposition factions arrested 14 individuals all of whom were men while ISIS arrested 234 individuals including 218 men and four women in addition to 12 children whereas Al-Nussra Front arrested 17 individuals who were all men.
The report records 264 releases; 237 cases from government detention centers, 14 from Self-management forces detention centers, and 23 from ISIS detention centers.
In addition, nine individuals were released by Al-Nussra Front and 11 were released by various armed opposition factions according to the report.
The report distinguishes between individuals released from government forces’ civil prisons and individuals released from security detention centers who were 218 and 19 respectively.
The report records that no less than 137 inspection points across Syria have resulted in cases of detention in June. Most of these inspection points were in Al-Hasaka governorate. Additionally, government forces carried out the most raids in June followed by ISIS.
Furthermore, the report records 212 cases of abduction where SNHR hasn’t been able to identify the groups responsible for those education as of this writing. However, 152 abductions took place in areas controlled by government forces.
The report notes that the detainees issue hasn’t seen any notable progress even though it was included in the “Cessation of Hostiles” statement. Therefore, the report emphasizes that all arbitrary arrest and enforced-disappearance cases must be ceased and the families of the detainees must be allowed to visit their beloved ones. Also, the report recommends that all women and children must be released and the use of them as war hostages must stop.
Furthermore, the report emphasizes the necessity of granting the international independent monitors of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, which was established by the UN, and the International Committee of the Red Cross unrestricted access to all the official and non-official detention centers. Also, A UN committee should be formed to see to the release of the detainees periodically and per a timetable that must be presented by all the detaining parties and mainly government forces that is detaining 99% of all detainees.
The report calls on the Security Council to monitor the implementation of the following resolution:
Resolution 2042, adopted on 14 April 2012, Resolution 2043, adopted on 21 April 2012, and Resolution 2139, adopted on 22 February 2014 which states and end to the crime of enforced-disappearance.
Finally, the report asserts that the UN and the international community must uphold their responsibilities with respect to hundreds of thousands of detainees and forcibly-disappeared individuals in Syria.