SNHR condemns Syrian Democratic Forces’ arrest of at least 16 media workers in Raqqa city on July 30

Photo showing Syrian Democratic Forces personnel and vehicles. Photo source: Getty Images.

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Paris – Syrian Network for Human Rights

SNHR documented Syrian Democratic Forces’ security patrols’ detention/arrest of at least 16 media professionals, two of them women, in raids on their locations in the city of Raqqa on July 30, 2022. According to the information we’ve obtained, the arrests of the detainees, who work for several media agencies and local organizations, were carried out through the intelligence service of the Syrian Democratic Forces, with the media personnel being falsely accused of “espionage”.

The Syrian Democratic Forces follow a policy similar to the Syrian regime in such arrest operations, with no arrest warrants or evidence being presented. Rather, the arrests are carried out in the form of abductions from roads, markets, and public places, or in raids on the headquarters of media agencies and civil organizations, and without judicial warrants.

We fear the detainees may suffer torture and go on to become forcibly disappeared, as is the case with 85% of all detainees. We also observe that a number of the detainees were severely beaten during the process of their arrest, and threats were directed at them.

Since the end of June of this year, SNHR has documented the escalation of arbitrary arrests/detentions and recruitment by the Syrian Democratic Forces, and the serious suppression of freedoms in the areas under their control, which has been reflected in various aspects of life; The freedom of press and political work have deteriorated for all critics of the Syrian Democratic Forces’ policies.

SNHR condemns the detention of media professionals, and calls for their immediate release, and for financial and moral compensation to be paid to them for the harm they have suffered. We also condemn all violations against media workers and media centers, and demand that they be protected as stipulated under international humanitarian law, given their vital role in disseminating factual news and information in the areas where they are present, and in shedding light on violations against civilians.

We also demand respect for the freedom of media work as stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and insist that all media be allowed freedom of movement, and that all parties stop their efforts to control the work of journalists or allow their work only according to the extent of their loyalty to the controlling party, and that all parties repeal all ‘security decisions’ that suppress freedom of opinion and expression, and stop filing security charges as a pretext for arrests and detentions.