Free peaceful activists, journalists, aid workers in amnesty

first_img Follow the news on Syria Receive email alerts Photo: AFP Toll of ten years of civil war on journalists in Syria Damascus TV presenter arrested under cyber-crime law News February 3, 2021 Find out more SyriaMiddle East – North Africa Wave of Kurdish arrests of Syrian journalists October 24, 2012 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Free peaceful activists, journalists, aid workers in amnesty RSF_en Read in Arabic (بالعربية)President Bashar al-Assad should release all peaceful activists, media professionals, and humanitarian assistance providers as part of an amnesty announced on October 23, 2012, Human Rights Watch, Alkarama, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Index on Censorship, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Reporters Without Borders, PEN International and Samir Kassir Foundation – Skeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom said today. These persons have been detained purely for exercising their basic rights such as freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, or for assisting others and therefore should not have been detained or prosecuted in the first place, the groups said. The president’s Legislative Decree No. 71 grants a general amnesty, reducing or eliminating prison terms for most crimes, but it excludes those who have been charged or convicted of terrorism offenses under the Anti-Terrorism Law enacted on July 2. Although Assad issued four amnesty decrees in 2011 and two others in January and May, security forces have kept many peaceful activists in detention. To ensure that the amnesty does not exclude them, the government should allow independent UN monitors inside Syria’s detention facilities, the groups said.center_img March 12, 2021 Find out more News News Help by sharing this information Organisation to go further SyriaMiddle East – North Africa “If this amnesty announcement is genuine, Bashar Al-Assad must allow independent international observers to visit all of Syria’s detention centres,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.”Journalists and citizen-journalists who were arrested just for exercising their right to inform Syrians and the international community about the events taking place in Syria must be released at once, along with human rights defenders. Failing this, the announcement will be just an empty shell.”Some of the worst human rights abuses in Syria take place outside of public view, behind the cell walls of detention facilities, where thousands of Syrians, including many women and children, are arbitrarily detained and in many documented cases, brutally tortured. Peaceful activists, human rights defenders, aid workers, lawyers, doctors, writers, and journalists continue to be held, often arbitrarily, in incommunicado detention, and subject to torture and ill-treatment.Anwar al-Bunni, a lawyer who is following up on the cases of many detainees, told Human Rights Watch that he is familiar with several cases in which individuals are being charged with assisting terrorists because they were providing humanitarian assistance and that in some cases activists are also being charged with having conducted terrorist acts, including the prominent Syrian actress May Skaff. The Anti-Terrorism Law defines a terrorism act as “every act that aims at creating a state of panic among the people, destabilizing public security and damaging the basic infrastructure of the country by using weapons, ammunition, explosives, flammable materials, toxic products, epidemiological or bacteriological factors or any method fulfilling the same purposes.” The law also stipulates that the promotion of “terrorism” including through the distribution of literature, or other information, is punishable by imprisonment with hard labor. Financing terrorism includes supplying, directly or indirectly money, weapons, ammunition, explosives, means of communication, information, or “other things” to be used in the implementation of a terrorist act.Security forces should not use the expansive powers of the country’s Anti-Terrorism Law to exclude peaceful activists, human rights defenders, humanitarian workers and other political detainees from the amnesty, the groups said.Although Syrian authorities technically lifted the emergency law on April 21, 2011, on the same day they enacted Legislative Decree 55, limiting the time that a person can be lawfully held in detention without judicial review to 60 days for certain crimes, including terrorism offenses. According to a former detainee who spoke to Human Rights Watch, high ranking officers explained to him while in detention that they were using this provision and the Anti-Terrorism Law to legally hold detainees for up to 60 days pending judicial review. This limit, does not meet the requirement in international law that judicial review of detention should take place “promptly.” Furthermore, several former detainees interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that they had been held without judicial review even longer than the 60 days permitted by Syrian law.While it is impossible to verify the number of people detained since the beginning of anti-government protests in March 2011, the Violations Documentation Center (VDC), a Syrian monitoring group, has said it is at least 32,160. In some instances activists have reported that security forces detained their family members to pressure the activists to turn themselves in. Among those detained incommunicado are several employees of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM). On February 16, Air Force Intelligence raided the group’s offices and arrested 16 people, including seven women. Five of the men arrested, including Mazen Darwish, the group’s president, and other staff members – Abdel Rahman Hamada, Hussein Ghareer, Mansour al Omari, and Hani Zetan – remain in incommunicado detention. Their whereabouts are unknown. On October 2, the prominent human rights lawyer, Khalil Maatouk, who was working on the SCM case, was abducted while driving to his office with a friend, Mohamed Zaza, and has not been seen since. Maatouk has represented numerous human rights defenders and activists, including Darwish. Anwar al-Bunni, who is following up on his detention, told Human Rights Watch that Maatouk, who has health problems, is being detained in a Political Security detention facility in Damascus. Maatouk is the executive director of the Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Research and the head of the Syrian Center for the Defense of Detainees. He has defended numerous activists before and during the uprising in front of military, state security, and civil courts.Humanitarian assistance providers and doctors have also been arrested and otherwise harassed by the Syrian government while attempting to provide assistance in violation of its obligations under international humanitarian law. Under humanitarian law, the government is required to allow and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of impartially distributed humanitarian aid to the population in need and to ensure the freedom of movement of humanitarian relief personnel essential to the exercise of their functions. A formerly detained doctor who spoke to Amnesty International after he was released in spring 2012 reported that he had been held with two other doctors in late February in the Air Force Intelligence branch in Mezze, Damascus and that both had been tortured in detention. Security forces arrested one of them, Dr. Mohamad Osama Al-Baroudi, at his clinic on February 18, and the other, Dr. Mahmoud Al-Refaai, at Al-Mouwasat hospital in Damascus, on February 16. The released doctor said he believed that Dr. Al-Baroudi and Dr. Al-Refaai were detained for providing medical treatment to injured demonstrators.On December 31, 2011, Syrian Military Intelligence arrested Hussam Ahmed Al-Nabulsi after he and another man riding with him on a motorbike were shot at and he was injured, witnesses reported. A family member told Amnesty International that before his arrest he had been providing food and money to families who had suffered as a result of the unrest. His family has tried to find out his whereabouts and condition, but the authorities have not responded to their requests for information. Syria remains one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists to work. According to Reporters Without Borders, since the beginning of anti-government protests in March 2011 at least 150 journalists and citizen journalists have been imprisoned. 15 journalists and 41 citizen-journalists have been killed. Other people who have expressed controversial views or promoted freedom of expression have also been targeted by the government.Syrian security forces have conducted a widespread and systematic campaign of torture of detainees across Syria since the beginning of the anti-government protests. Former detainees and defectors have reported horrific torture including sexual abuse such as rape, forced nudity, and electric shock to the genitalia; beatings with batons and cables, particularly targeting sensitive body areas; and burning and electric shocks.The government should immediately stop arbitrarily arresting, detaining, and torturing those in custody, the groups said. The government should provide immediate and unhindered access for recognized international detention monitors, including the office of the Joint Special Representative of the UN and the League of Arab States, Lakhdar Brahimi and the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Syria, to all detention facilities, official and unofficial, without prior notification.The Joint Special Representative’s Office and the COI should provide professional human rights monitors who are trained to organize random and regular visits to all places of detention, including suspected secret detention centers. These experts should have the capabilities and resources to identify people who are arbitrarily detained, protect interviewees from retaliation, ensure the confidentiality and safekeeping of interviews, and interview women who have been sexually abused and children who have been tortured.For more Reporters Without Borders reporting on Syria, please visit:http://en.rsf.org/syria.html News March 8, 2021 Find out morelast_img read more

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Two unsolved murders in the 1970s now linked to one suspect through DNA: Prosecutors

first_imgEl Dorado County District Attorney(SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif.) — Two unsolved murders of young women from the 1970s have now been linked to one suspect through DNA and genetic genealogy, according to Northern California prosecutors.Brynn Rainey, 27, vanished in July 1977. Her body was found a month later in a shallow grave in South Lake Tahoe, according to the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office. Unknown DNA was left behind on a blood stain on Rainey’s shirt, prosecutors said.Two years later, 16-year-old Carol Andersen, a rising high school junior, was killed in the summer of 1979. Her battered body was found on the side of a South Lake Tahoe road, prosecutors said. DNA was also recovered from Andersen’s body.The murders went unsolved for decades until Parabon NanoLabs helped investigators use genetic genealogy to solve the case by submitting the unknown killer’s DNA to a genealogy database and building a family tree around the results. That led investigators to zero in on three brothers who have since died, the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office said in a Monday news release.DNA was collected from the child of one of the brothers. DNA was also retrieved off of a toothbrush that belonged to that brother, prosecutors said.Further testing confirmed that the DNA of Joseph Holt — who died in 2014 — matched the DNA found on Rainey’s shirt and Andersen’s body, prosecutors said.The novel investigative technique of genetic genealogy takes an unknown killer’s DNA from a crime scene and identifies the suspect through his or her family members, who voluntarily submit their DNA to genealogy databases.The first public arrest through genetic genealogy was the April 2018 identification of the suspected “Golden State Killer.”Since then, genetic genealogy has helped identify more than three dozen suspects, according to CeCe Moore, chief genetic genealogist with Parabon NanoLabs, which has worked on the majority of the cases. Just this month, suspects were identified in the 1993 murder of a 20-year-old Alaska woman and the 1973 strangling of an 11-year-old California girl.Meanwhile, Holt, the alleged killer, spent decades under the radar in Northern California.Holt, who was born in 1947, grew up in San Jose and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, prosecutors said.He moved to South Lake Tahoe in 1974 and started working in real estate, the district attorney’s office said.Holt lived less than two miles away from where each of the bodies were found, prosecutors said, according to The Sacramento Bee.He died in 2014 and was not identified as a suspect until 2018, prosecutors said.Authorities are investigating whether Holt is responsible for other unsolved crimes, according to prosecutors.Holt’s family has fully cooperated with the investigation, prosecutors added. Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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Bojan conjures up moment of magic

first_img With both sides showing four changes apiece, the first half had little going for it bar a handful of half chances as neither the Foxes’ Ben Hamer nor Stoke’s Asmir Begovic were ever truly tested. There was understandably industry and effort from two teams renowned for hard work and graft, but then this was never going to be a hand-warming classic on a crisp afternoon. Indeed, a near sell-out crowd had to wait 11 minutes for the opening effort following a tedious first 10 minutes. Even then it was an inadvertent one as an attempted clearance from Marc Muniesa to an Anthony Knockaert corner looped just wide of Begovic’s left-hand post. Four minutes later and Stoke had what proved to be their only chance on target in the first half with a 25-yard free kick from Marko Arnautovic comfortably scooped up by Hamer after Bojan had been fouled by Marcin Wasilewski. That challenge clearly counted against Wasilewski because in the 19th minute another poor tackle on Jonathan Walters resulted in referee Andre Marriner dishing out what proved to be his only yellow card of the game. Just before the half-hour mark some life was finally injected into the proceedings with the Foxes creating two chances inside a minute. Jeff Schlupp, pulled from African Nations Cup duty with Ghana earlier this month due to a knee injury but back in the City side on the day the competition began, was the architect of the first. Bojan Krkic brought Leicester’s mini-revival grinding to a halt with a moment of magic in an otherwise tame top-flight midlands derby clash. The Spaniard’s fourth goal of the season just after the hour proved decisive, ending the Foxes’ four-match unbeaten run and so ensuring Nigel Pearson’s side remain at the foot of the Barclays Premier League. For Mark Hughes’ Potters, after being thumped 3-0 at Arsenal a week ago, the 1-0 victory was the perfect tonic, particularly after losing skipper Ryan Shawcross to injury ahead of the game. last_img read more

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