Mohammad Abdul Rahman Majjou was an internally displaced person (IDP) from Khan al-Assal neighborhood in southeastern Aleppo city who had fled to and been living in al-Atareb city in western rural Aleppo governorate, a city currently under the control of armed opposition factions and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). In May 2023, Mohammad travelled from al-Atareb city to Aleppo city to seek a security settlement from the Syrian regime, so that he could return to his original place of residence, which is in an area under regime control. On June 15, 2023, however, personnel from the Syrian regime’s Military Security Intelligence forces arrested him at his house in Aleppo city. Mohammad, his parents’ only son, who was married with two children, had originally fled Aleppo city for western rural Aleppo governorate to escape the bombardment and clashes between regime forces and armed opposition places which were taking place at the time in the city.
Mohammad’s arrest was carried out without any legal warrant issued by a court or legal authority being presented. Furthermore, no members of Mohammad’s family were informed of his arrest, and he was denied any opportunity to call his family or a lawyer. He was taken to a detention center in Damascus city, and has been classified as forcibly disappeared ever since his arrest.
On August 3, 2023, Mohammad’s family learned that he had died inside a regime detention center in Damascus city. The family learned of Mohammad’s death via informal means, namely through a call by Syrian regime forces personnel. On August 5, his family was able to recover his body in Aleppo city. According to information obtained by the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), Mohammad Majjou had suffered brutal torture, the marks of which were visible on his body, as well as deliberate denial of food, and poor healthcare during his detention. Despite this, however, Mohammad’s family was unable to demand an investigation into his death or to file a complaint to the public prosecutor due to a well-founded fear of being persecuted themselves by the regime’s security forces for their criticism.
International law strictly prohibits torture and other forms of cruel, degrading, or inhumane torture. The prohibition of torture is a customary rule that cannot be disputed or balanced against other rights or values, even in times of emergency. Violating this rule is a crime according to international criminal law. Those who issued the orders for or assisted in carrying out torture are criminally liable for their actions.
SNHR condemns all arrest and torture practices by Syrian regime forces and all other parties, more especially those inflicted on returning IDPs and refugees. We call for launching an immediate independent investigation into all incidents of arrest and torture that have taken place, particularly this barbaric incident. We also call for all of those involved in such crimes to be held accountable, from the officials issuing the orders to the individuals who carried them out. The findings of these investigations and accountability processes must be made public to the Syrian people. All of those involved in arrest and torture practices over the years must be exposed, while the survivors and victims’ families must be compensated for the gave physical, psychological and emotional trauma inflicted on them.