Including 667 in June
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 4,082 arrest cases were recorded in the first half of 2018, including 667 cases in June.
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 4,082 in the first half of 2018, and documents the toll of arbitrary arrests in June at the hands of the parties to the conflict. In addition, the report monitors the most notable raid and inspection points that resulted in detentions in June. 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 their arbitrary arrest and enforced-disappearance policies against civilians residing in their areas of control in the month of June, as Syrian regime forces and their local militias carried out wide arrests for the purpose of recruitment. Those arrests targeted university students and government employees, as well as the different segments of society in the age group 18-42. Also, the report also recorded that Syrian regime forces carried out mass arrests in June that targeted entire families, including women and children, where they were taken to non-official detention centers in order to force their relatives who are affiliates with armed opposition factions to surrender themselves.
On the other hand, Kurdish Self-Management forces continued to target civil society activists with opposing views to their policies in June. The report also recorded wide arrests against Arab civilians at checkpoints, particularly in Raqqa and Hasaka governorates.
Moreover, the report notes, ISIS arrested civilians who violated their regulations in their areas of control in June. The report also recorded that the group targeted affiliates of armed opposition factions, particularity in suburbs of Daraa governorate.
According to the report, factions from the armed opposition carried out wide arrests in June, in northern and eastern suburbs of Aleppo governorate – particularly in Afrin, Izaz, and al Bab cities.
The report outlines the toll of arbitrary arrests in June, as the report records no less than 667 cases. Of those, Syrian regime forces arrested 517, including 66 children and 98 women (adult female). The report records that ISIS was responsible for 41 cases, including one child, while Hay’at Tahrir al Sham was responsible for 22 cases, including four children. The report also documents 66 cases of arbitrary arrest at the hands of Kurdish Self-Management forces including eight children and five women, in addition to 21 cases at the hands of factions from the armed opposition.
The report also shows a distribution of cases of arbitrary arrests by governorate, where Daraa saw the most arrests with 109 cases of arrest.
In addition, the report says that 194 inspection and raid points resulted in cases of detention across governorates. Most of these points were in Damascus governorate, while Syrian regime forces were responsible for most of the raids, followed by extremist Islamic groups.
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 UN 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.