HRW: Syria unlawfully holding large number of peaceful political activists

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday began a campaign [advocacy websites] for the tens of thousands of political activists that they claim are being detained in Syria for their peaceful activity. "Lost in Syria's Black Hole" tells the story of Syrian individuals who have been detained since the start of the Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] in 2011. Each individual has reportedly either been detained for exercising a right [news release] to free expression and peaceful assembly, or for providing medical care or shelter to people injured or displaced as a result of the conflict. Syrian authorities have been said to detain individuals for months without formally charging them of a crime, while simultaneously mistreating them and preventing them from reaching out to their family or an attorney. HRW stated, "The systematic use of torture by the government is strong evidence of state policy which would constitute crimes against humanity. Concerned governments need to make clear that the Syrian government and those responsible for the abuse will ultimately face justice for their actions." HRW also recommended that the Syrian government drop charges against political detainees who are currently before the military field courts or the counterterrorism court.

The Syrian Civil War has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups first began protesting the regime of Assad. Last week the UN reported that inspectors returned to Syria to investigate seven chemical weapon attacks, including three that occurred after the August 21 incident in Damascus [JURIST reports]. Last month the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) reported that the ongoing war has victimized those with disabilities [JURIST report]. Also in September guest columnist Paul Juzdan described the various opposition groups and their characteristics at work in Syria, and also analyzed the consequences of using the policy [JURIST op-eds] of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) in any possible intervention. In the same month Juzdan also explored the ethnopolitical landscape [JURIST op-ed] of Syria and explained what a regime change could mean for the country and international relations. Guest columnist Enver Hasani also argued that a regime change in Syria would represent a profound geopolitical shift [JURIST op-ed]. Also in September contributing editor David Crane arguesd that the world should remember the 1930's [JURIST op-ed] in crafting a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Syria. In the same month guest columnist Jordan Paust provided several legal justifications under the UN Charter for the use of force in Syria, while Curtis Doebbler argued that the use of military force against Syria would constitute a violation of international law [JURIST op-eds].

 

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