Saleh Ahmad Saleh, a child born in 2008, from al Qameshli city in northern Hasaka governorate, resident in al Ashrafiya neighborhood in Aleppo city, was brutally assaulted by police personnel from al Aziziya Neighborhood Police Station in Aleppo city, which is controlled by Syrian regime forces, on August 13, 2022. The assault took place between al Ashrafiya neighborhood and Masaken al Sabeel in Aleppo city, with police first savagely assaulting the child before arbitrarily arresting him.
SNHR received information from witnesses who stated that detectives at al Aziziya Police Station accused the boy of theft. The arrest was carried out without any legal or judicial warrant being issued, the child’s family wasn’t informed of his arrest, and he wasn’t allowed to contact them or a lawyer.
The next day, August 14, 2022, the child’s family received notification from police personnel ordering his father to go to the police station; on his arrival, he was informed that his son had committed suicide by hanging himself, and told to take the child’s body without any forensic report. The child’s father refused to take his body away until after a forensic report was issued.
The boy’s family received his body from the Forensic Department in Aleppo city on August 15, 2022, with the regime’s forensic pathologists supporting the police claim that the child had committed suicide.
On August 18, 2022, SNHR obtained photos and videos, clearly showing the lethally brutal torture that the child Saleh Ahmed Saleh had been subjected to in custody. We are well aware of the extent to which the Syrian regime controls all state institutions, including pathologists’ labs and hospitals, and of the inability of personnel working in these facilities to dissent with, expose or speak out against the security forces, knowing that they will face a terrible fate for doing so.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child, in its Article 37, stipulates that children accused of violating the law should not be subjected to death, torture, cruel treatment, life imprisonment, or be imprisoned with adults. Imprisonment in such cases should be a last resort and for the shortest possible period. Imprisoned children also have the right to legal aid and to be able to maintain contact with their families.
International law categorically prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and this is a customary rule that cannot be compromised or compared with other rights or values, not even in a state of emergency, while violating the prohibition of torture is a crime in international criminal law. Persons who ordered or assisted in torture bear criminal responsibility for such practices.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights condemns all detention and torture practices carried out by the Syrian regime forces, especially against children, and calls for an immediate independent investigation into all incidents of arrest and torture that have occurred in regime custody, especially this barbaric incident. We also emphasize the need for an independent investigation holding all those involved in this crime accountable, starting with those who ordered it and including those who carried it out, and insist that Syrian society must be informed of the results of this investigation, with full accountability for its perpetrators. We emphasize that all those who have been involved in these heinous detention and torture practices over the years must be exposed, dismissed and tried for their crimes, and that all victims, survivors and victims’ family members should be compensated for the physical, psychological and emotional damage they have been subjected to.
Photo of the child Saleh Ahmad Saleh.