The Russian special envoy to Syria’s statement aims to misrepresent the issue of detainees and forcibly disappeared persons by his ally, the Syrian regime
Press release (Link below to download full report):
Paris – The Syrian Network for Human Rights issued a report stating that there are at least 131,469 detainees or forcibly disappeared persons have been held by the Syrian regime since March 2011, and added that the Russian special envoy to Syria’s statement aims to misrepresent the issue of detainees and forcibly disappeared persons, along with his ally, the Syrian regime.
The 6-page report said; Russia’s Special Envoy to Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, statement on the sidelines of the 17th round of the Astana Talks, that: “The number of detainees in Syria, which is allegedly 980,000, is unrealistic compared to the number of prisons in Syria” is meant to cast doubt on the credibility of the documented information on those detained and forcibly disappeared by the Syrian regime, continuing Russia’s customary role of devil’s advocate as it persists in defending the Syrian regime and justifying or denying its crimes. In this context the report added that the Russian envoy would be aware that he and everyone else can rely fully on the statistics issued by the United Nations and human rights organizations which have created databases built on a strict methodology of documentation for over 11 years.
The report stated, the documentation process for arrest cases is complicated and tiresome because of the Syrian Regime barbaric practices. The report added that these arrests, that are, in reality, more like abductions as they are carried out without judicial warrants. In most cases, the security forces carrying out the arrests are from the four main intelligence branches, which are responsible for arrests with no oversight from any judicial authorities. These bodies automatically deny their responsibility for carrying out these arrests, regardless of the evidence against them, and most detainees go on to be categorized as forcibly disappeared.
It would be more helpful of the Russian envoy to demand that the Syrian regime and its Ministry of Interior publish lists of the names of the Syrian citizens they have detained, since the Syrian regime and its institutions currently issue no statistics or lists detailing these cases.
According to the report, since 2011, SNHR has built a detailed database documenting arrests and enforced disappearances using a dedicated program designed especially by our IT Department, which our staff work constantly to update and develop. Also, SNHR’s team is committed to high and precise standards to determine the arbitrary arrest case, based on the international law and the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment.
The report added that according to SNHR’s database at least 149,862 of the individuals, detained or forcibly disappeared at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria between March 2011 and August 2021 are still detained or forcibly disappeared, including 4,931 children and 9,271 women. Including:
131,469 individuals, including 3,621 children and 8,037 women (adult female) by the Syrian regime, about 87%. While 2287 including 37 children and women (adult female) are still under arrest/forcibly disappeared by Hay’at Tahrir al Sham. And 3641 individuals including 296 children and 759 women (adult female) by all armed opposition factions/Syrian national army. In addition, 3817 individuals including 658 children and 176 women are still under arrest/forcibly disappeared by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic forces. Also, 8648 individuals, including 319 children and 255 women arrested by ISIS, that are still forcibly disappeared.
According to the report, at least 102,287 individuals, including 2,405 children and 5,801 women, have been forcibly disappeared, including 86792, including 1738 children and 4986 women, while 8648 have been disappeared by ISIS including 319 children and 255 women. The report also stated, that 2064 including 13 children and 28 women, have been disappeared by Hay’at Tahrir al Sham. And 2567 individuals, including 237 children and 446 women arts still forcibly disappeared by all armed opposition factions/Syrian national army since 2011 in all areas it had controlled. Also, 2216 individuals, including 98 children and 86 women are still forcibly disappeared by the Syrian Democratic forces.
The report stated that the detainee figures included in the report don’t include prisoners with a criminal background, but do include cases of arrest that are based on the internal armed conflict, mainly due to opposition activity against the ruling authorities, as well as cases of detention intended to suppress freedom of opinion and expression.
According to the report, these statistics represents the bare minimum of the incidents of arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearance that have taken place, which the SNHR’s team have been able to document according to set criteria. In reality, there are thousands more cases and incidents which we were unable to include, due to difficulties and complications, we have faced since 2011 and up to the present day. Most notable among these are: The reluctance of victims’ families to cooperate and reveal or provide details of any information on their family members’ arrest, even confidentially, more especially if the arrested individual is female, due to a well-founded fear still prevalent in Syrian society that being discovered doing so would result in more torture and further danger for their loved ones and themselves; The failure of the international community and of all the organs of the United Nations to apply pressure on the Syrian regime authorities to release even one individual (including those whose sentences are completed); None of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces makes any public record available to the community showing the whereabouts of detainees and the reasons for their arrest, or what judicial rulings were issued against them, including the death penalty, with the vast majority of families left not knowing the fate of their family members.
The issue of detainees and forcibly disappeared persons is one of the most crucial human rights issues in Syria which there has been no progress in resolving despite its inclusion in several resolutions of the UN Security Council, as well as in UN General Assembly resolutions, in Kofi Annan’s plan, and finally in the statement of cessation of hostilities issued in February 2016, and in Security Council resolution 2254 of 2015 which states that all detainees, especially women and children, must be released immediately. Despite all these resolutions and other official statements, no progress has been made on the issue of securing the release of detainees in any of the rounds of negotiations sponsored by international parties regarding the conflict in Syria. The International Committee of the Red Cross has been unable to conduct any periodic visits to any of these detention centers, constituting a violation of International Humanitarian Law.
The report added, that the Syrian regime has not fulfilled any of its obligations under any of the international treaties and conventions which it has ratified. We refer specifically to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The regime has also violated several articles of the Syrian Constitution itself, with thousands of detainees arrested without any arrest warrant, imprisoned for many years, without charges, and prevented from appointing a lawyer and from receiving family visits. Almost 68 percent of all detentions documented have subsequently been categorized as cases of enforced disappearance.
The report recommended that the Russian regime must demand that its ally, the Syrian regime, disclose the fate of nearly 87,000 forcibly disappeared persons and immediately release tens of thousands of arbitrarily detained persons and detainees whose sentences ended, and stop the brutal torture practices.
As well as recommending that the United Nations, international community, and the guarantors of the Astana Talks should form an impartial special committee to monitor cases of enforced disappearance, and to make progress in revealing the fate of the nearly 102,000 documented missing persons in Syria, approximately 85 percent of whom are detained by the Syrian regime.
In addition to other recommendations.