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Syrian Regime Arrested 1168 Civilians from Immigration and Passport Departments

A human rights organisation said that 1,168 individuals, including 16 children and 96 women, disappeared while they were at immigration and passport departments, according to Sawt al-Asima
Syrian Regime Arrested 1168 Civilians from Immigration and Passport Departments

On Wednesday, the Syrian Network for Human Rights released a report detailing the ongoing detention of 1,168 individuals, including 16 children and 96 women, with 986 of them subjected to enforced disappearance, while they were at immigration and passport departments.

Since March 2011 until February 2024, the regime has detained approximately 1,912 individuals while they were at immigration and passport departments across various Syrian governorates, among them 21 children and 256 women. Additionally, 193 cases involved individuals who had previously settled their security status.

Out of these cases, 723 were eventually released, while 21 tragically succumbed to torture and lack of medical attention.

Beyond arrests and enforced disappearances, the Syrian Network for Human Rights has documented instances of violations of human dignity during passport issuance or renewal processes. These include enduring prolonged queues without receiving assistance, as well as being coerced into paying bribes to employees or brokers affiliated with security services to expedite transactions.

In Turkey, home to a significant Syrian population, the Syrian consulate in Istanbul has been reported to engage in a systematic pattern of humiliation and exploitation. The consulate fails to provide a waiting area for visitors, nor does it implement a fair queuing system based on scheduled appointment times.

Individuals are often left waiting for hours on the street outside the consulate, with little consideration for vulnerable groups such as the elderly, pregnant women, or children accompanied by their parents. The network has documented instances where consulate staff purposefully obstruct transactions for Syrians, whether due to personal temperament or to coerce citizens into paying additional fees by arranging appointments through intermediaries.


Tightening and high costs 

Between 2011 and 2015, the Syrian regime enforced a requirement for a security approval paper for anyone seeking to acquire a passport, whether inside or outside Syria.

However, in April 2015, the regime issued a legislative decree that permitted the issuance of passports to Syrians both within and outside the country, including those who had departed Syria illegally.

Al-Shabaka has highlighted numerous instances of arrests occurring even after the issuance of this decree, indicating a lack of effective legal protection for Syrian citizens.

Moreover, the Syrian regime imposes exorbitant and unjustifiable fees for obtaining or renewing passports, effectively turning passports into a significant revenue stream for the regime, generating millions of dollars annually. Additionally, the regime profits from various services provided by consulates, which accounted for 5.4% of total income in 2023, a stark increase from 0.4% in 2010, as reported by al-Shabaka.


This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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