No One Has been Held to Account
On the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, SNHR said that violations against Syria’s workers in the field of media, whether journalists or other media workers, haven’t stopped but continue to be perpetrated in the context of directly targeting their media activism in order to silence their voices and strike terror into the hearts of their colleagues, which further undermines the Syrian community and poses a threat to civil peace through crushing the authority and power of independent media outlets.
SNHR has, at the time of this writing, documented the killing of at least 689 workers in the field of media in Syria since the start of the popular uprising at the hands of the parties to the conflict, primarily the Syrian regime. This figure suggests that we lose a new worker in the field of media every five days. According to our database, 418 workers in the field of media are still either detained or forcibly disappeared, with all these individuals paying dearly to deliver facts and reveal the truth.
None of the parties to the conflict has launched any investigation, in any form, or addressed the crimes against workers in the field of media, or other crimes for that matter, with the Syrian regime being the principal offender among those parties via sponsoring and even legalizing a policy of impunity, whilst other parties to the conflict have subsequently followed in its footsteps. The Syrian Constitution contains articles which state clearly that no forces of the Syrian regime shall be held to account without the permission of their commanding officer; these articles accurately reflect the barbaric mindset of the ruling authority and its eagerness to enforce unrestricted authoritarianism upon the community.
We have monitored systematic, deliberate and continuous targeting of anyone attempting to film or document the peaceful demonstrations across the country by Syrian regime snipers. We’ve also documented that pro-regime photographers took photos of citizen journalists in order to have them arrested and prosecuted.
Since the start of the Russian forces’ intervention on September 30, 2015, a series of brutal crimes have been perpetrated across Syria, resulting in the killing of 19 media workers, most of whom were killed as a result of the ‘double-tap’ policy adopted by Russian forces.
With the emergence of extremist Islamic groups, citizen journalists and foreign journalists had to endure more persecution. Last year saw an escalation in the areas under the control of Hay’at Tahrir al Sham in terms of assaults against the workers in the field of media, with the group raiding their offices and confiscating their contents. In addition, Hay’at Tahrir al Sham has arrested media workers who oppose their policies or criticize their practices. Meanwhile, ISIS’ violations against journalists and workers in the field of media have continued despite the group losing most of its previous territories, with SNHR documenting the killing of at least two media workers by ISIS last year alone.
Journalists and workers in the field of media in areas under the control of factions from the armed opposition have also faced killing and arrest, as those factions have used oppression and intimidation in dealing with journalists and others who criticize these factions.