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Syria- Serious concern for Red Crescent volunteer Suhaib Hassan Swaidan following reports of his ill-treatment in detention

2013-06-07

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) has received information that Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) Volunteer, Suhaib Hassan Swaidan, 22 years old, was detained in Homs on 23 May 2013.

Reports from local sources confirm that he was arrested by members of the Military Intelligence of the Syrian Army who were wearing military uniforms, when he was passing with a SARC First Aid Squad Ambulance Team through the Cultural Centre checkpoint located in the Al-Midan area next to Al-Mahatta Avenue in Homs.

Since his arrest, the Military Intelligence have not informed the family of his whereabouts nor of any charges directed against him. However, some detainees who have been released recently confirmed that Swaidan is detained at the Military Intelligence prison in Homs.

Some other report suggested that he has been ill-treated by the authorities at the prison and there is concern that he may be subjected to torture due to his in incommunicado detention.

He was injured twice during his work as a volunteer with SARC in August 2011 when shrapnel caused by nearby shelling penetrated his neck, and then in January 2012 during First Aid missions in Homs where a bullet penetrated his thigh, causing permanent damage to the nerves and the structure of the leg which required rehabilitation to function properly.

Swaidan is in his second year of studies at the Faculty of Economics in Hama. He has been volunteering with the SARC since 2011. He became a leader of a First Aid Squad and a member of SARC’s Human Resources Committee of Homs city Branch.

The GCHR expresses grave concern for the physical and psychological safety of Suhaib Hassan Swaidan following the reports of his ill-treatment. This concern is heightened by the fact that the human rights defenders suffers from two previous injuries which he sustained while on missions with the Red Crescent and he is need of ongoing medical treatment.

 The GCHR calls on the Syrian government to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release Red Crescent volunteer Suhaib Hassan Swaidan;
  2. Immediately ensure that Swaidan has unfettered access to the medical treatment which he requires;
  3. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Swaidan while he remains in detention;
  4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Syria are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment. 

The GCHR reminds the Syrian government that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognizes the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 5 (b) “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels  (b) To form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups” and Artice 12 (2) “The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.