Including 542 at the hands of Syrian Regime Forces
SNHR said today that no less than 547 individuals died due to torture in Syria in July 2018.
The report notes that the international law completely prohibits torture and other forms of cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment. This being a customary rule, states can’t dismiss or undermine this rule in favor of other rights or values, even in times of emergency.
The report stresses that torture is being practiced in Syria in a systematic manner to extremely brutal and sadistic degrees. Also, torture is practiced on sectarian and ethnic basis in many cases – especially inside the detention centers of Syrian regime forces who has been, and still is, the primary and main perpetrator of the crimes of torture
According to the report, other parties have committed the crime of torture, even if to a lesser extent than the Syrian regime, as SNHR team has recorded a notable increase, since 2015, in rates of deaths due to torture at the hands of other parties – particularly at the hands of ISIS and Self-Management forces, while rates of death due to torture at the hands of armed opposition factions saw a rise in late-2016.
Fadel Abdul Ghany, chairman of SNHR, adds:
“The norm of ‘Responsibility to Protect’ must be implemented in light of the government’s failure to protect its people, and the fruitlessness of the diplomatic and peaceful efforts so far. Crimes against humanity and war crimes are being perpetrated every day in Syria and mainly at the hands of the organs of the state itself.”
The report records an unprecedented rise in number of deaths due to torture in July, for the second month in a row, as families are still finding out about their beloved ones’ death through the Syrian regime civil registry offices whether when they are doing paperwork or through lists containing names of forcibly-disappeared persons who died due to torture which were publicized by those offices even though the lists don’t reveal the cause or place of death. The report says that toll of victims who died due to torture at the hands of Syrian regime forces that was documented in July alone, 542 victims of torture, was greater than double the documented number of victims who died due to torture at the hands of the same forces in all of 2017. According to the report, the number of victims who died due to torture at the hands of Syrian regime forces alone between March 2011 and August 2018 is estimated now at 13,692 Syrian citizens.
The report draws upon ongoing monitoring of news and developments by SNHR team, and on an extensive network of relations with various sources, in addition to speaking with either former detainees, or victims’ families and friends, as most of those get information about their detained relatives by bribing officials in charge.
The report notes that confirming deaths remains completely subject to ongoing documentation and verification as cases of this nature remain open. In light of the serious difficulties we encounter in the process of documentation, what has been included in the report only represents the bare minimum of the actual violations that are being perpetrated.
The report documents that 693 individuals have died due to torture at the hands of the parties to the conflict in Syria since the start of 2018, including 675 who died at the hands of Syrian regime forces. The report adds that 547 individuals died due to torture at the hands of the parties to the conflict in July. Of those, Syrian regime forces killed 542, including one child and one woman, who died inside Syrian regime detention centers. Four were killed at the hands of factions from the armed opposition while one individual died was killed at the hands of other parties.
According to the report, Homs governorate recorded the highest number of deaths due to torture in July with 127 individuals. The remaining death toll is distributed as follows:
124 in Damascus suburbs, 81 in Damascus, 77 in Hama, 75 in Daraa, 26 in Idlib, 21 in Hasaka, six in Latakia, five in Aleppo, four in Deir Ez-Zour, and one in Suwayda.
The report stresses that the Syrian regime has practiced torture through multiple institutions in a widespread manner which constitutes an explicit breach of the international human rights law and qualifies as crimes against humanity. Also, these crimes, which have been perpetrated after the start of the non-international armed conflict, constitute a blatant breach of the international human rights law and constitute war crimes. Furthermore, the report notes that the Syrian regime never launched any investigation, or held those who were involved accountable, but rather concealed and hid criminal evidences.
The report adds that other parties to the conflict (ISIS, Kurdish Self-Management forces, and factions from the armed oppositoin) have perpetrated violations of the rules of the international human rights law or the international humanitarian law which constitutes a war crime.
The report calls on the Syrian regime to launch an immediate investigation on all cases of death inside detention centers, and suspend all death sentences considering that they are based on confessions extracted under brutal torture. Also, the report says that the Commission of Inquiry, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and all objective human rights groups should have immediate access to detention centers. In addition, the report demands action to cease all forms of torture.
Additionally, the report calls for the release of arbitrarily arrested detainees, especially women and children, in addition to revealing the fates of tens of thousands forcibly-disappeared persons, as the report holds the Syrian regime responsible for deaths due to torture.
The report calls on the Kurdish Self-Management to respect the standards of the international human rights law, cease the use of torture, and hold all those who were involved in this crime accountable. Also, the report calls on the Kurdish Self-Management to reveal all detainees and publicize lists of their names, make the locations and sites of the secret detention centers public, and allow families and human rights groups to visit them.
Moreover, the report calls on the extremist Islamic groups and factions from the armed opposition to ensure the implementation of the international human rights law in the areas and prisons under their control, and cease all forms of torture inside detention centers.
The report calls on the Security Council and the United Nations to apply pressure on the Syrian government in order to implement Security Council resolutions 2042, 2139, and 2254, and take action under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations in order to save detainees from dying inside detention centers.
The report calls on Russia to stop hindering the referral of the case in Syria to the International Criminal Court, stressing that states party to the Convention against Torture should take all necessary measure to establish their jurisdiction over the perpetrators of torture crimes, and impose serious sanctions against the Syrian regime.
Lastly, 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.