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SNHR Condemns SDF’s Detention, Fatal Torture of a Child

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Bashar Mohammad al-Salama, a boy originally from al-Qouriya city in eastern rural Deir Ez-Zour, was arrested in 2017 in Hasaka city, where he was living at the time, by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) personnel. Bashar, who was 15 years old at the time of his arrest, has been forcibly disappeared ever since with the SDF denying any knowledge of his whereabouts and refusing to allow anyone, even a lawyer, to visit him.

On February 19, 2024, Bashar’s family received the news from an SDF-affiliated intermediary that he had died in an SDF detention center. We are still investigating and collecting information about Bashar’s death. However, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) can confirm that he was in good health at the time of his arrest, indicating a strong probability that he died due to torture in the SDF detention center. SNHR can also confirm that the SDF has yet to return his dead body to his family.

Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (the simplified children’s version) establishes that “children who are accused of breaking the law should not be killed, tortured, treated cruelly, put in prison forever, or put in prison with adults. Prison should always be the last choice and only for the shortest possible time. Children in prison should have legal help and be able to stay in contact with their family.”

International law strictly prohibits torture and all 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 abduction and torture practices, particularly those directed against children, by SDF personnel, as by all other forces. We call for the immediate launch of an independent investigation into all incidents of arrest and torture that have taken place, particularly this latest 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 and all who colluded in the process. 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 must be exposed, while the survivors and victims’ families must be compensated for the grave physical, psychological and emotional trauma inflicted on them.

SNHR Condemns SDF’s Detention, Fatal Torture of a Child