Among them were 12 killed, four arrested and abducted and 15 injured in June
SNHR has published its monthly special report that documenting the violations by all conflict parties in Syria against media activists who play a prominent role in the civil movement and the armed conflict. The report highlights the most notable violations against media activists in the first half of 2016.
According to the report, Media activism in Syria is continuously deteriorating as many international organizations are not paying enough attention to what is happening in Syria and the notable decline in media coverage over the last year compared with previous years.
The report notes that a journalist is a civilian according to the international humanitarian law regardless of his nationality. Any attack directed against a journalist is considered a war crime. However, when a media activist gets close to military targets, he is responsible for his own actions where targeting him in such case would be seen as collateral damage. Also, he would lose the right to protection if he was involved in military operations. The report also notes that media activists must be respected whether they have identification papers as media workers or don’t considering the many difficulties they encounter to acquire these papers.
After the commencement of the Cessation of Hostilities statement on 27 February 2016, Most of the Syrian governorates have seen a notable and a relatively good decline in killing rates compared to the previous months since 2011. Nevertheless, violations haven’t stopped and mainly at the hands of the Syrian regime and its allies who are, seemingly, the most affected parties by the ongoing Cessation of Hostilities
One day after the High Negotiation Committee decided to postpone its participation in Geneva talk on 19 April, government forces and Russian forces resumed bombing areas outside the Syrian regime’s control and the killing rates increased back to its former levels before the Cessation of Hostilities.
According to SNHR’s methodology, a civilian journalist is anyone who plays a notable role in reporting and publishing news. He is not necessarily neutral as a journalist should be. In case a civilian journalist carried a weapon and was directly engaged in offensive military operations, he is not deemed a citizen journalist as long as he is involved in military action.
This report draws upon SNHR archive and the investigations conducted by the Network in addition to accounts by victims’ families, information from local activists, and analyzing the pictures and video footages that we received.
In light of the security and logistic difficulties to access all the areas where violations take place, it is worth noting that these statistics and incidents are only the bare minimum of the actual magnitude of crimes and violations that happened.
The report outlines the violations against media activists in the first half of 2016.
The report recorded the killing of 45 media activists in the first half of 2016 as government forces killed 14, including one woman and three due to torture, while allegedly Russian forces killed six media activists, and ISIS killed 14 media activists including one woman. In addition, armed opposition factions killed six activists whereas two media activists were killed at the hands of self-management forces and three media activists were killed by unidentified groups.
According to the report, 27 cases of arrest and abduction have been recorded in the first half of 2016; 25 out of the 27 detainees and abductees were released. Government forces arrested two media activists who were release later while Al-Nussra Front arrested seven media activists, including one woman, and released them later. Additionally, armed opposition factions arrested six media activists; five among whom were released later, and four media activists were arrested by self-management forces; three of them were released later.
The report notes that 38 media activists were injured in the first half of 2016; 21 of them at the hands of government forces, six by Russian forces, three by ISIS, two by armed opposition factions, and one by self-management forces in addition to five who were injured by unidentified groups.
The report sheds light on the violations against media activists in the month of June 2016 where the report recorded that four media activists were killed by government forces including one due to torture, three by Russian forces, four by ISIS in addition to one media activists who was killed by unidentified group.
The report documented one arrest by Al-Nussra Front and one arrest by self-management forces in the month of June, both of the two detainees were released later. Also, unidentified group abducted two media activists who were released later.
According to the report, seven media activists were injured by government forces, four by Russian forces, and four by unidentified groups.
The report emphasizes that serious and quick steps must be taken to save media activism in Syria and renews its condemnation of all violations against the freedom of media activism regardless of the perpetrators. The freedom of media must be respected and the workers in the media field must be protected and particularly considered.
Furthermore, the report calls on the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic to conduct investigations that focuses on the targeting of media activists, and the Security Council to work on fighting the policy of impunity by referring the cases in Syria to the International Criminal Court.
Finally, the report urges the International and Arabic media institutions to advocate their colleagues in the field of media by publishing periodic reports that shed light on their daily suffering and memorialize their sacrifice.