Most Were for the Purpose of Recruitment
SNHR said today in its special monthly report that documents cases of arbitrary arrest at the hands of the parties to the conflict in Syria that no less than 557 arbitrary arrest cases were recorded in May.
The report notes that arbitrary arrests have been made in Syria on a daily basis since the start of the popular uprising for democracy in March 2011 for simply exercising one of their basic rights such as the freedom of opinion and expression, or because they were denied a fair trial, or because they were detained after their punishment had ended. According to the report, arbitrarily detained individuals are subjected to solitary confinement for several months or sometimes years if not indefinitely at official and non-official detention centers in most cases.
The report stresses that the Syrian regime is responsible for no less than 87% of all arbitrary arrests. In most cases, victims’ families can’t accurately identify the entity that made the arrest, considering that all of the forces that sided with the Syrian regime (Iranian militias, the Lebanese group Hezbollah, and others), aside from the four main security agencies and their many branches, have the authority to arrest, torture, and commit the crimes of enforced-disappearance.
Furthermore, the report notes that the issue of detainees is almost the only issue that has yet to see any progress despite all the negotiations, agreements, and Cessation of Hostilities statements.
The report notes that the mounting number of arrests is due to a number of reasons. Most notably, the fact that many detainees weren’t arrested over a crime they committed, but because of their relatives’ involvement with armed opposition factions or because they were involved themselves with humanitarian relief. Also, most of the arrests are made randomly and involve people who have no association with the popular uprising or relief efforts, or even military. In addition, many groups affiliated to Syrian regime forces have the authority to make arrests, and carry out arbitrary arrests with the lack of any judicial supervisions by government authorities.
The report records 3,415 cases of arbitrary arrest between the start of 2018 and June of the same year. In addition, the report documents the toll of arbitrary arrests in May, and monitors the most notable raid and inspection points that resulted in detentions. The report also outlines the most notable individual cases and incidents of arbitrary arrest.
The report sheds light on the strict standards incorporated by the report in order to determine an incident of arbitrary arrests, as the report avoids recording any incidents of detention, imprisonment, or deprivation of freedom in accordance with the international laws and the set of principles on arbitrary arrest. The report draws upon verifying information from various sources, such as: victims’ families, SNHR members in Syrian governorates, cooperating local activists, and former detainees, in addition to contacting the families of the detainees and forcibly-disappeared persons, as well as people close to them and people who survived detention for the purpose of collecting as much information and data as possible, in light of extraordinarily and extremely complex challenges.
The report notes that Syrian regime forces continued enforcing their arbitrary arrest policies in May, mainly for the purpose of recruitment, as they targeted young men, university students, and government employees in raid and arrest campaigns in universities, public markets, and residential centers, particularly in the governorates in Hama and Damascus governorates. We also monitored in May wide arrest campaigns carried out by the Syrian regime that targeted residents from the region of Eastern Ghouta who live in mass shelters near Damascus city.
In addition, ISIS continued targeting armed opposition faction fighters or their relatives in May. These arrests also included civilians who violate the regulations imposed by the group. Arrests were concentrated in Daraa and Damascus suburbs governorates.
Self-Management forces continued enforcing their arbitrary arrest policies for the purpose of conscription. These arrests didn’t exclude children and women, and were concentrated in Hasaka and Raqqa governorates.
The report outlines the toll of arbitrary arrests in May, as the report records no less than 557 cases. Of those, Syrian regime forces arrested 406, including 26 children and 56 women (adult female). Self-Management forces were responsible for 78 cases, including nine children and five women, while ISIS were responsible for 32 arbitrary arrest cases, including two children and five women. Hay’at Tahrir al Sham were responsible for 19 cases, including three children and one woman, Lastly, factions from the armed opposition were responsible for 22 cases, including five children and three women.
The report also shows a distribution of cases of arbitrary arrests by governorate, where Damascus suburbs governorate topped all governorates with 92 cases of arrest.
In addition, the report says that 165 inspection and raid points resulted in cases of detention across governorates. Most of these points were in Raqqa, whereas Syrian regime forces were responsible for most of the raids, followed by Self-Management forces.
The report calls on the Security Council to follow on the implementation of resolution 2042, 2043, and 2139 which states that enforced-disappearance should be cease.
Additionally, the report calls on the Human Rights Council to follow on the issue of detainees and forcibly-disappeared persons in Syria, and shed light on it in all of the annual meetings.
Also, the report calls on the Commission of Inquiry (COI) and the International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) to launch investigations on the incidents included in this report and past reports. The report stresses that SNHR is willing to cooperate and provide more evidences and data.
The report stresses that the U.N. and the guarantor parties at Astana should form an impartial special committee to monitor cases of arbitrary arrest, and reveal the fate of 86,000 missing persons in Syria, including 87% at the hands of the Syrian regime. The report adds that pressure should be applied on all parties in order to immediately reveal their detention records in accordance with a time table, immediately make their whereabouts public, and allow human rights groups and the International Committee of Red Cross to have direct access to them.
Lastly, the report emphasizes that children and women should be released, and families and friends should not be taken as war hostages. The report calls on the official who was newly appointed in charge of the detainee file at the UN special envoy office to include the detainees issue in the upcoming rounds of Geneva talks, as this issue is of a greater importance to the Syrian people than other far-term issues that can be jointly addressed later, such as the constitution.