Including 14 at the Hands of Syrian Regime Forces, Torture Continues Despite the De-Escalation Agreement
SNHR has published its periodic report on victims who died due to torture for the month of May. The report documents that no less than 18 individuals died due to torture.
The report highlights the de-escalation agreement in Syria, which commenced on May 6, 2017, after it was announced at the end of the fourth round of Astana talks which was held between Russian, Turkish, and Iranian representatives as the sponsoring states of Ankara Ceasefire Agreement. Nonetheless, breaches didn’t stop, mainly by the Syrian regime, who is seemingly the party that would be most affected should the ceasefire go on, and in particular extrajudicial killing crimes and, more horrendously, deaths due to torture, as rates of deaths due to torture didn’t see any changes from the month prior to the commencement of the agreement. This strongly asserts that there is a ceasefire of some sort on the table, but the crimes that the international community -especially the Russian, Turkish, and Iranian sponsors- won’t see are still going on as nothing had happened.
The report notes that the Syrian authorities the denies executing any arrests and, instead, accuses Al-Qaeda and terrorist groups such as ISIS. Additionally, the Syrian regime doesn’t acknowledge any torture or death-due-to-torture cases. SNHR obtains information from former prisoners or prisoners’ families where most of the families get the information they have about their detained relatives through bribing officials in charge. Syrian authorities usually don’t give back the dead bodies of the prisoners to their families. Also, in most cases, families are scared to go and get the dead bodies of their relatives or even their personal items from military hospitals out of fear of being arrested themselves.
The report sheds light on the difficulties SNHR team encounters in the documentation process on account of the ban imposed against it and the fact that its members are being pursued by various parties. In light of such circumstances, it might be difficult to fully verify deaths as the process remains subject to ongoing documentation and verification.
The report records that 14 died due to torture at the hands of Syrian regime forces, while two individuals died due to torture at the hands of Kurdish Self-Management forces. In addition, the report documents two deaths due to torture at the hands of other parties.
According to the report, Aleppo and Damascus suburbs governorates saw the highest toll of death due to torture in May, with four deaths each. The remaining death toll is distributed as follows: three in Idlib, two in Daraa, one in Deir Ez-Zour, one in Damascus, one in Hama, one in Homs, and one other nationality.
The report notes that among the cases were one media activist, two university students, and one elder.
The report affirms that this considerably huge number of victims who are dying under torture every month, with taking into consideration that the actual number of deaths is most likely higher, unequivocally indicates a systematized policy that is being adopted by the head of the ruling authorities. All of the state’s organs, branches, and figures are fully aware of these policies. Furthermore, these policies were enforced in a widespread manner which constitutes crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Finally, the reports call on the Security Council to implement the Resolutions adopted on Syria and hold all those who violate the Resolutions accountable.