66% of all Cases Were by Syrian Regime Forces Who Targeted Mostly People Who Agreed to Settlements
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 693 arrest cases were recorded in August 2018.
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 that 5,422 arbitrary arrests have been made since the start of 2018, and documents the toll of arbitrary arrests in August 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 August. 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.
According to the report, August saw a number of raid and arrest campaigns by Syrian regime forces that were concentrated against civilians and former armed opposition fighters in the areas that agreed to settlements with Syrian regime forces. The report also says that a number of arrests made by Syrian regime forces that involved people returning to their hometowns from north Syria after they were forcibly displaced as part of settlement agreements. Some of those died due to torture shortly after they were detained. Those arrests were concentrated in Daraa governorate and Douma city, Damascus suburbs governorate.
The report adds that Syrian regime forces also continued seeking out civilians who were activists in the popular uprising towards democracy and also armed opposition factions fighters who live in their areas of control, as the report notes that Syrian regime forces carried out organized raid and arrest campaigns that targeted entire families on account of being relatives to individuals from armed opposition factions. Those arrests were concentrated in the cities of Hama, Latakia, and Homs. Women and children were no exception.
On the other hand, the report notes, Self-Management forces (primarily consisting of the Democratic Union Party – a branch for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party) continued enforcing their policy of arbitrary arrest and enforced-disappearance against political activists and individuals from civil society groups who oppose their policies. Those arrests were concentrated in Hasaka governorate. Also, Self-Management forces continued carrying out arbitrary arrests for the purpose of conscription. According to the report, August has recorded the highest toll of arbitrary arrests by Self-Management forces since the start of 2018.
August saw also arrests by Hay’at Tahrir al Sham that involved doctors and activists from local councils. The group is still pursuing and arresting individuals from armed opposition factions who are affiliated with the Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operation rooms. Those arrests were concentrated in southern suburbs of Idlib governorate.
The report adds that armed opposition factions made arrests in August that were concentrated in their areas of control in Aleppo governorate, particularly Afrin and al Bab cities.
The report outlines the toll of arbitrary arrests in August, as the report records no less than 693 cases. Of those, Syrian regime forces arrested 456, including 21 children and 36 women (adult female).
Self-Management forces arrested 102 individuals, including nine children and eight women, while ISIS arrested 32 individuals, including three children. Hay’at Tahrir al Sham arrested 62 individuals, including one child and one woman. Lastly, factions from the armed opposition arrested 41 individuals, including two children and two women.
The report also shows a distribution of cases of arbitrary arrests by governorate, where Hasaka governorate saw the most arrests with 125 cases of arrest.
In addition, the report says that 189 inspection and raid points resulted in cases of detention across governorates. Most of these points were in Damascus suburbs governorate, while 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 UN and the guarantor parties at Astana should form an impartial special committee to monitor cases of arbitrary arrest, and reveal the fate of 95,000 missing persons in Syria, approximately 86% of whom are detained by 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.