SNHR has published its monthly report documenting the arbitrary arrests by the conflict parties in Syria for the month of August.
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 because of their involvement in 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 records 649 cases of arbitrary arrests in August. Additionally, the report notes that government forces made widespread arrests that involved employees. 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 employees or college students are either going to collect their salary or to take exams.
Additionally, government forces carried out 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 cities of 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, internet cafes, exchange shops 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 in addition to expanded arrest campaigns for the purpose of conscription that centered in Al Qamishli, in the suburbs of Al Hasaka governorate, and Ifreen.
The report notes that 649 individuals at least were arrested including 450 detainees by government forces who were divided into 409 men, 19 children, and 22 women.
Also, Self-management forces arrested 89 individuals as follows: 82 men, four children, and three women.
According to the report, armed opposition factions arrested 13 individuals who were all men while ISIS arrested 94 individuals including five children whereas the remaining 89 were men. In addition, Fateh Al Sham (Formerly Al Nussra Front) arrested three individuals who were all men.
The report documents 286 releases including 208 cases from government forces detention centers in addition to 31 from Self-management forces and 36 from ISIS-affiliated detention centers.
According to the report, Fateh Al Sham released eight individuals while armed opposition factions released three individuals.
The report distinguishes between individuals released from government forces’ civil and military prisons and individuals released from security detention centers who were 186 and 22 respectively.
The report notes that no less than 146 inspection points that resulted in detentions have been documented across Syria. Most of the point were in Al Hasaka governorate while government forces carried out the most raids followed by Self-management forces.
The report also records 256 abduction cases that SNHR haven’t been able to identify its perpetrators. 186 cases of the 256, however, 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.