Paris – Statement by the Syrian Network for Human Rights:
On Saturday, June 26, 2021, Al Jazeera Public Liberties and Human Rights Centre, in cooperation with Al Jazeera Mubasher, held a panel discussion entitled “Preventing Torture and Supporting Its Victims: Reality and Challenges”, on the occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, with the event broadcast on Al Jazeera Mubasher channel. The panel discussion hosted Mr. Fadel Abdul Ghany, Director of the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), Mr. Abdelwahab al Hani, a human rights expert and former member of the Committee against Torture, Mr. Mansour al Dhaifi, a former Yemeni detainee, and Mr. Ahmad Mufid, a human rights defender.
The panel discussed the reality and challenges of respecting and implementing the total prohibition of torture under international human rights legislative instruments and customary international law, with the systematic and widespread practice of torture constituting a crime against humanity. The panel also highlighted the efforts of the relevant treaty bodies, national human rights committees, and human rights organizations, and the impact of these efforts on improving practical action, supporting victims and their families, and providing redress and reparation for them. In addition, the panel touched upon the role of the media in raising awareness of anti-torture standards, exposing abuses and violations committed by regimes, and enabling victims to make their voices heard and enhance their human dignity.
In his address during the event, Mr. Fadel Abdul Ghany said that torture was one of the first violations practiced in Syria against activists in the popular uprising after March 2011, along with their arbitrary arrest, with torture in Syria being organically linked with arrest, noting that there is hardly any detainee (the number of those arrested at some point is estimated at more than 1.2 million people) who hasn’t been subjected to some form of torture, when arrested, with arrests being carried out without a judicial warrant, while most of the detainees are classified as forcibly disappeared. As he stated: “Enforced disappearance of the detainee includes a severe form of physical and psychological torture, for the detainee and also for his or her family, and this torture may, or may not, lead to the detainee’s death”.
Mr. Abdul Ghany added that summary execution is another form of torture commonly practiced in Syrian regime detention centers. Through use of these practices, he noted, the Syrian regime has targeted and continues to target participants in the popular uprising, including political demonstrators, in order to strike a blow at and ultimately crush the uprising, and to deter the largest possible number of members of Syrian society from engaging in or continuing with the uprising, saying, “Syrian regime forces have systematically and in a widespread manner practiced torture, which constitutes crimes against humanity, as well as war crimes because it is practiced in the context of an armed conflict, and it is a state policy according to the reports of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria (COI).”
Mr. Abdul Ghany further explained that it is not possible for any detainee to know the or amount of torture which he or she may be subjected to by the Syrian regime based on the invariably false accusations against him/her, describing the regime’s torture regimen as extensive and limitless, increasing the psychological suffering and trauma for detainees because they do not know when or if their torture will end, and the extent of the torture they might be subjected to, which may lead to their death.