65% of all Arrests were at the hands of Syrian Regime Forces
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 647 arrest cases were recorded in July.
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 4,729 cases of arbitrary arrest since the start of 2018, and documents the toll of arbitrary arrests in July 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 and 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 and enforced disappearance policies against the civilians living in their areas of control in July as Syrian regime forces and local pro-regime militias have launched wide arrest campaigns for recruitment purposes. These arrests targeted university students and government employees from the age group 18-42. Also, the report records that Syrian regime forces arrested and forcibly disappeared a number of civilians from the areas that signed reconciliation agreements with Syrian regime forces, most notably against the residents of Damascus suburbs and Daraa governorates. In addition, Syrian regime forces carried out systematic arrests that targeted families of armed opposition factions’ affiliates in the cities of Hama, Aleppo, and Latakia. Children and women were no exception from those arrests.
According to the report, Self-Management forces continued arbitrarily arresting civil community activists who oppose their policies in July. Self-Management forces also widely arrested Arab civilians at their checkpoints, most notably in Raqqa and Hasaka governorates.
Armed opposition factions carried out wide arrests that targeted civilians in northern and eastern suburbs of Aleppo governorate in July. These arrests were concentrated in the cities of Afrin, Izaz, and al Bab. The report also records that Jaish al Islam, an armed opposition faction, and Hay’at Tahrir al Sham were responsible for arrests and acts of torture that targeted people from Damascus suburbs governorate who are living in the areas under the control of armed opposition factions and Hay’at Tahrir al Sham in Idlib and Aleppo.
The report outlines the toll of arbitrary arrests in July as the report records no less than 647 cases. Of those, Syrian regime forces were responsible for 419, including 36 children and 51 women (adult female).
Self-Management forces were responsible for 66 cases, including 14 children and 16 women, while ISIS were responsible for 37 cases of arbitrary arrest, including four children and seven women. Hay’at Tahrir al Sham was responsible for 52 cases, including two children. Lastly, factions from the armed opposition were responsible for 73 cases, including three children and five women.
The report also shows a distribution of cases of arbitrary arrests by governorate, where Aleppo saw the most arrests with 122 cases of arrest.
In addition, the report says that 137 inspection and raid points resulted in detentions across governorates. Most of these points were in Damascus suburbs governorate while Syrian regime forces were responsible for most of the raids, followed by Kurdish 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 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.