Fears of a COVID-19 Pandemic in Syrian Detention Centers
The conditions of incarceration in the detention facilities of the Syrian government pose a great danger to the lives of the detainees, who number approximately 90212. This number has been confirmed by the Violations Documentation Center in Syria (VDC) but the true figure is likely to be greater than this. These detainees were arbitrarily arrested because of their participation in peaceful protests, or expression of opposing political opinionsو, furthermore, those arrests were largely made arbitrary with no cause. Thousands of arrests turned into enforced disappearances after the Syrian government refused to acknowledge their detention or reveal the fate or whereabouts of detainees. Armed groups throughout Syria are also arbitrarily detaining thousands of civilians without any legal justification. Other than depriving opinion detainees from the pardon decrees succesively issued by the head of the regime excluding the majority of the opinion and political detainees from these decrees, detainees are being killed in detention centres as a result of systematic torture, denial of medical care, and from detention in cramped, unhygienic and unventilated cells. These factors threaten the immune systems of detainees. With the spread of the Coronavirus around the world, and despite the government denying it has spread in Syria, the situation will be disastrous if the virus spreads inside a detention center. Additionally, the Syrian government refusal of releasing health records of detainees is really concerning, either those who were killed in the past or recently arrested people who have chronic diseases or in need of specialized health care.
Based on the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners of 1955, which include the principles of providing healthcare during imprisonment including for prisoners held without charges, principles that were approved by the Economic and Social Council, And also, based on the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that enshrine prisoners’ right to safe and healthy places and their right to be provided with adequate healthcare services and medicines as well as special protection for prisoners at risk, we the signatory organisations demand that: