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SNHR Condemns Syrian Regime Forces’ Arrest of Two Women and Two Boys in Damascus City on June 2, 2024

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On Sunday, June 2, 2024, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) documented the arrest of two women and two boys from Kanaker town in southwestern Rural Damascus governorate the same day by personnel affiliated with the Palestine Branch (Branch 235) of the Syrian regime’s Military Intelligence Directorate; the women and boys were arrested while they were receiving treatment at a medical facility in the Masaken Barza area in Damascus city, and taken to Palestine Branch in Damascus city. The next day, June 3, the women and boys were taken to the Air Force Intelligence Directorate’s headquarters in al-Mazza Military Airbase in Damascus city.

According to information from local activists in Kanaker, who are close to the arrested women, they were detained to be used as hostages to put pressure on a family member into surrendering himself to the authorities. One of the two women is also dealing with a health issue that requires urgent medical attention.

It should also be noted that the arrest was made without a judicial warrant; this is overwhelmingly the norm in arrests made by Syrian regime forces. Those arrested were not informed of the charges directed against them, and have been denied any opportunity to contact their families, currently having the effective status of hostages. We have documented many such cases, in which regime forces have arrested relatives of wanted individuals, with those arrests usually targeting the most vulnerable members of the wanted individuals’ families, such as women and children. This is done not simply to extract information from those detained, but to punish the wanted individuals and to put pressure on fugitives to surrender themselves.

SNHR notes that Kanaker town has seen numerous local settlement agreements with the Syrian regime since early-2016. Some of those settlements were struck with the Russian side acting as meditators, while the Syrian regime did not fulfill any of its obligations, especially with regard to releasing detainees from the town and to leaving them alone without further persecution or rearrest. On the contrary, Syrian regime forces have besieged the town on multiple occasions since then, and subjected many of its residents to arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearance.

SNHR stresses that, through this latest arbitrary detention of women and children and denying them medical attention, the Syrian regime has again violated the order issued by the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) on November 16, 2023, on the provisional measures requested by Canada in the Netherlands in the case brought against the Syrian regime on the application of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

SNHR condemns all arrest practices by Syrian regime forces, particularly this latest barbaric incident. We call for the immediate release of the two women and two boys, and insist that they be compensated for the material and moral damages they have suffered. We also condemn all other violations against children and women and call on the regime to end all arbitrary arrests/detentions and torture, which only aim to spread mass fear among the public and to extort residents.

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