SNHR has published its monthly report documenting the arbitrary arrests by the conflict parties in Syria for the month of October.
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 notes that arbitrary arrests made in October were notable for government forces’ almost daily raiding and arrest campaigns that involved civilians in the main neighborhoods of Damascus, Aleppo, and Hama cities. The arrests made in Damascus focused on the age group 18-42 for the purpose of conscription while government forces targeted the families of activists and armed opposition fighters in Hama and Aleppo.
In addition, government carried out widespread arrests that involved civilians fleeing to Lebanon as they are passing the border crossings to Lebanon. These arrests included especially civilians from Damascus suburbs governorate cities that are out of government forces’ control such as Al Zabadani, Madaya, Doumda, and Al Mu’damiya.
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 (Consisting Primarily of the Democratic Union Party forces – a branch for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party) 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-Hasakah 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 Hasakah governorate, and Ifreen.
Fateh Al Sham front carried out many arrest operations which targeted the activists of charitable and humanitarian organizations. On Saturday 26 October, armed elements affiliated to Fateh Al Sham front (Formerly Al Nussra Front) arrested seven members of the volunteer team “Mulham” including one woman while the team was preparing a celebration for the children in the IDPs camp of Al Doryya village which located in Latakia governorate.
Moreover, Jund Al Aqsa organization, one of Extremist Islamic groups which joined Fateh Al Sham front, carried out widespread arrest operations in the southern suburbs of Idlib against civilians and armed elements belonging to the Islamic movement “Ahrar Al Sham” one of Syrian armed opposition factions.
Also in October, the armed opposition factions which are in Damascus suburbs carried out mutual arrest operations that targeted armed opposition factions and service cadres affiliated to Al Islam Army and Al Rahman brigade.
The report notes that 594 individuals at least were arrested in October including 412 detainees by government forces who were divided into 353 men, 18 children, and 41 women.
Also, Self-management forces arrested 51 individuals as follows: 49 men, one child and one woman.
According to the report, armed opposition factions arrested 22 individuals who were all men while ISIS arrested 93 individuals who were divided into 87 men, five children and one woman. In addition, Fateh Al Sham (Formerly Al Nussra Front) arrested 16 individuals divided into 15 men and one woman.
The report documents 379 releases including 262 cases from government forces detention centers in addition to 19 from Self-management forces and 29 from ISIS-affiliated detention centers.
According to the report, Fateh Al Sham released 55 individuals while armed opposition factions released 14 individuals.
The report distinguishes between individuals released from government forces’ civil and military prisons and individuals released from security detention centers who were 221 and 41 respectively.
The report notes that no less than 132 inspection points that resulted in detentions have been documented across Syria. Most of the point were in Al Hasakah governorate while government forces carried out the most raids followed by ISIS.
The report also records 158 abduction cases that SNHR haven’t been able to identify its perpetrators. 116 cases of the 158 cases, 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.