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Study: 2,460 arbitrary detention cases in 6 months in Syria

Women of International Conscience Convoy comprising people from over 50 countries, tie their hands to attract notice to Syrian women in prisons, as they gather at a fair area after their arrival in Hatay, Turkey on March 8, 2018 [Erdal Türkoğlu / Anadolu Agency]
Women of International Conscience Convoy comprising people from over 50 countries, tie their hands to attract notice to Syrian women in prisons, as they gather at a fair area after their arrival in Hatay, Turkey on 8 March, 2018 [Erdal Türkoğlu/Anadolu Agency]

At least 2,460 cases of arbitrary arrests were documented in the first half of 2019, including 336 cases in June, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) announced yesterday.

In an official report, SNHR said that “arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances” were among the most common and widespread violations carried out by the Syrian regime since the early days of the 2011 Syria uprising.

“These violations, which have affected hundreds of thousands of Syrians, are carried out by the Syrian security services, as well as their affiliated militias, as part of a deliberate and planned strategy, often in a sweeping, indiscriminate manner, in order to instill terror and fear into the largest possible number of Syrian people,” the report explained.

Most of the arrests in Syria, SNHR pointed out, were carried out without any judicial a warrant while the victims pass through checkpoints or during raids, adding that the security forces of the Syrian regime’s four main intelligence services were responsible for “extra-judicial detentions.”

The rights organisation went on saying that the detainees were being tortured “from the very first moment of their arrest,” adding that they would get no opportunity to contact their families or to have access to a lawyer. “The [Syrian] authorities also flatly deny the arbitrary arrests they have carried out and most of the detainees are subsequently categorised as forcibly disappeared.”

SNHR noted that its research was based on the missing individuals who have been detained for “at least 20 days without their family being able to obtain any information from the relevant authorities about their status or location, with those responsible for the disappearance denying any knowledge of the individual’s arrest or whereabouts.”

Among the identified arbitrary detention cases, the humanitarian organisation said, 117 children and 122 women were affected. “1,733 of these [arrests] carried out at the hands of Syrian regime forces, including 80 children and 97 women, in addition to 16 other arbitrary arrest cases, including one child, were recorded at the hands of Daesh,” SNHR said.

The report also documented 184 cases of arbitrary arrests carried out by the country’s armed opposition factions and 337 other claims, including 22 children and 16 women, by the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

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SNHR pointed out that Aleppo had seen “the largest number of arbitrary arrests” across the war-torn country.

“At least 126 raids and checkpoints across all the Syrian governorates, predominantly in the Hasaka governorate, were resulted in cases of deprivation of freedom in June,” the report added, noting that the Syrian regime and the SDF led the checkpoints.

The Syrian regime, the local group, stressed, had not fulfilled any of its obligations in any of the international treaties and conventions it had ratified, most notably the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. “The Bashar Al-Assad-led regime has also violated several articles of the Syrian Constitution itself, with thousands of prisoners being detained without any arrest warrants for many years, without charges, and prevented from appointing a lawyer and from being visited by their families.”

“Eighty-five per cent of all the documented detentions have subsequently been categorised as enforced disappearance cases, with detainees’ families being denied any information on their loved ones’ whereabouts,” SNHR pointed out, explaining that if the family members who raise enquiries about the detained relatives would face a risk of being arrested themselves for doing so.

On 30 April, SNHR reported that the Syrian regime, led by Bashar Al-Assad, had killed 14,009 people under torture since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

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