Increasing prisoners’ toll rather than releasing them
SNHR issued its monthly report concerning the documentation of arbitrary arrests by conflict parties in Syria.
The report confirmed that SNHR is keen to follow the highest documentation standards but faces a number of challenges in documenting arrest cases. Some families are unwilling to provide us with any information since they fear their son’s life. Our task becomes even harder when a female prisoner is involved, since families fear that that their daughters might be tortured or executed.
The report also indicated that Syrians have deep convictions that the international community, with all its establishments, is incapable of pressuring the Syrian authorities to release any detainee. However, most of the release cases were recorded after prisoners swap deals between government authorities and armed opposition groups.
The report mentioned that SNHR documented the arrest of more than 117 thousand individuals, including children and women, and it affirmed that their estimations indicate that the number of detainees reached more than 215 thousand, 99 % are held captive in government detention centers, the statistic does not include the detainees on criminal background but the detainees on interior armed conflict background especially those who against the authority. Even though authorities deny these facts.
The report referred the mounting number of detainees to several reasons as: their relative’s activities are with armed opposition groups or they provide humanitarian aid to people in need. And the most of the arrest cases were conducted randomly against people who are not involved in protests, relief aid, or military actions. And there are multiple forces, affiliated to government authorities, who are responsible for arbitrary arresting civilians and detaining them in certain prisons that are not subjected to judicial supervision where detainees are not treated according to the Syrian stipulated laws.
March 2016 was distinguished in the arrests’ toll since government forces conducted widespread arrests campaigns against civilians from Damascus Barzet neighborhood where government forces detained dozens of residents of the besieged neighborhood while attempting to return to their homes. Government forces continued chasing and arresting activists and their families within the controlled cities and communities. The focus of these detentions was against the university students and government officials and activists of humanitarian action even those who are members of humanitarian organizations such as the Red Crescent or the licensed civil associations. In March also, detention operations were carried out by the government forces, against merchants in various sectors, and the most important of the banking sector financial remittances in Damascus, Aleppo and Hama.
ISIL also continued in the policy of arbitrary detention against civilian in its controlled areas. The detention operations included doctrines violators which forcibly imposed by the Organization, as well as communications stores and internet cafes, and civilians who are trying to flee from the areas of the control of the Organization to the areas of the control of the armed opposition factions.
Kurdish Self-Management Forces continued the policy of arbitrary detention, enforced against civilians and political activists opposed to the directions in the areas under its control, which focused the arrests in Al Hasaka city, and the Afrin city in the suburbs of Aleppo governorate.
During March, we recorded a rise in the rate of cases of arbitrary detention, by Al Nusra Front, to journalists and activists in Idlib governorate in general, and the civilians who have links with affiliates Troop 13, which is one of the faction of the Syrian opposition armed forces. The arrests were focused in the cities of Idlib and Maarat Al Naaman in Idlib governorate.
The report mentioned that the toll was more than 517 detainees in March 2016, the government forces were responsible for 447 arrests cases, distributed as follows: 419 men, 21 women, and 7 children.
The report recorded 26 arrests cases by Kurdish self-management distributed as follows: 19 men, 4 children, and 3 women.
According to report, the armed opposition groups arrested 4 individuals distributed as follows: 3 men and one child. While ISIL arrested 32 individuals distributed as follows: 26 men, 4 children, and 2 women. AL Nusra front arrested 8 male individuals.
The report recorded 314 released cases distributed as follows: 280 released cases in government forces detention centers, 9 released cases in Kurdish self-management detention centers, 17 released cases in ISIL’s detention centers.
According to report Al Nusra released 5 individuals and armed opposition groups released 3 individuals.
The report classified the releases cases that documented in government forces detention centers as follows: 251 releases cases in military and civilian prison and 29 release cases in security branches.
The report indicated that SNHR documented 136 inspection points that resulted in detention distributed on Syrian governorates most of them in Damascus and Al Raqqa. While the government forces was the first responsible party for raids then ISIL.
The report mentioned that the toll of abduction cases was 227 cases SNHR was unable to identify the perpetrators. 185 cases were in government forces controlled regions.
The issue of detainees is the only concern that had no progress although it included in the statement of the cessation of hostilities, and in this particular case we recommend the following:
First: the arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances, which are still happening even now according to the monthly report of the Syrian Network for Human Rights, must be stopped immediately, and government forces must disclose all of the detainees’ fate, and allow parents to visit them immediately.
Second: All individuals who have been detained merely due to the exercise of their political and civil rights must be unconditionally and immediately released. Additionally, women and children must be released and stop dealing with them as war hostages.
Third: Grant independent international observers such as the members of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry set up by the United Nations on the Syrian Arab Republic and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to visit all the official and non-official detention centers, without prior arrangement, without any limitation or qualification
Fourth: Form a UN committee to monitor the release of the detainees periodically according to a timetable for the requested all those detained, mainly from the Syrian government, which holds 99% of the total of the detainees
The report recommended the Security Council to monitor the implementation of the resolutions: 2042 issued on April 14, 2012, resolution 2043 issued on April 21, 2012 and 2139 issued on February 22, 2014 that put an end to the arbitrary arrests.
And it confirmed that the United Nations and the International Community must shoulder their responsibilities towards hundreds of thousands of detained and missing individuals in Syria.