70% of all Arrests Were Made by Syrian Regime Forces, most of Which Involved Individuals Who Agreed to Settlements
By: The Huffington Post
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 529 arrest cases were recorded in November.
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 7,126 cases of arbitrary arrest since the start of 2018, and documents the toll of arbitrary arrests in November 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 November. 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, the record of arbitrary arrests made in November featured a number of campaigns of raids and arrests by Syrian regime forces which focused on civilians and former armed opposition fighters in the areas that had signed settlement agreements with Syrian regime forces. Our monitoring also confirmed that Syrian regime force arrested some of the previously forcibly displaced civilians who returned from north Syria to their hometowns as part of these settlement agreements. In addition, Syrian regime forces launched a sweeping arrest campaign against individuals who had returned from neighboring countries, as well as targeting individuals who should supposedly have been protected by the amnesty laws and reconciliation offers established by the regime. November also saw an increase in the rates of kidnappings for ransom by Syrian regime forces’ security apparatuses, particularly by personnel of the Air Force Intelligence and Military Intelligence forces. These abductions were concentrated in the cities of Hama, Latakia, and Homs, and particularly targeted women and children.
The report adds that Syrian regime forces continued with their policies of pursuing civilian activists involved in the popular uprising for democracy, as well as targeting individuals affiliated with the armed opposition in areas under opposition control, with regime forces also carrying out campaigns of raids and arrests that targeted entire families related to members of armed opposition factions. These arrests, which included women and children, were concentrated in the cities of Hama, Latakia, and Homs.
Meanwhile, the report notes, Self-Management forces continued enforcing their policies of arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearance throughout the month of November, targeting political activists and members of civil society groups who oppose their views. These arrests were concentrated in Hasaka governorate. Additionally, Self-Management forces continued their policy of arbitrary arrest for the purpose of conscription. November also saw an increase in the rate of child arrests for the purpose of conscription by Self-Management forces, particularly in the areas under their control in Hasaka governorate.
In addition to these incidents, November also saw the arrests of doctors and local council personnel by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, whose members also continue to pursue and arrest armed opposition fighters belonging to factions affiliated with the Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operation rooms, with these arrests being concentrated in the southern suburbs of Idlib governorate.
Factions from the armed opposition, meanwhile, continued making arrests in the territories under their control, which were concentrated in Aleppo governorate, and particularly Afrin city.
The report outlines the toll of arbitrary arrests in November, as the report records no less than 529 cases. Of those, Syrian regime forces arrested 368, including 22 children and 24 women (adult female).
Self-Management forces arrested 107 individuals, including 9 children and 3 women, while ISIS arrested 9 individuals, including one child. Hay’at Tahrir al Sham, arrested 19 individuals, all men. Lastly, factions from the armed opposition arrested 26 individuals, including two children.
The report also shows a distribution of cases of arbitrary arrests by governorate, where Aleppo saw the most arrests with 75 cases of arrest.
In addition, the report says that 105 inspection and raid points resulted in cases of detention across governorates. Most of these points were in Deir Ez-Zour 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.