The Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar, confirmed that the statements of Assad regime officials about the release of thousands of detainees, based on the “amnesty” law issued on April 30th, 2022, are “exaggerated.” It noted that “many testimonies show that about 300 people have been released, not more than that.”
The pro-regime newspaper said in a report published on Thursday that this figure (300 people) is “the figure authorized with the implementation of the amnesty law, which does not address the many questions raised in relation to it. This is because these queries remain under consideration,” referring to the regime’s reluctance to release other figures.
At the end of April, Syrian regime president Bashar al-Assad passed a law granting a general amnesty for “terrorist crimes committed by Syrians before April 30, 2022.”
The law’s timing coincided with the condemnation and anger sparked by the revelation on the al-Tadamon Neighborhood Massacre, published by the Guardian newspaper, which documented the 2013 massacre conducted in the neighbourhood, south of Damascus.
According to human rights reports, Assad’s recent “amnesty” law – the 19th of Assad’s “amnesty” laws passed since 2011 – has not been fully implemented. Rather, regime authorities have merely released a few hundred detainees, out of tens of thousands.
Assad’s amnesty laws have heightened criticism on human rights grounds, arguing that they come to “improve the image of war crimes and crimes against humanity” that Assad has committed against the Syrian people since 2011.
According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, the Assad regime released only 527 detainees and kept nearly 132,000 others in prison, a month after the amnesty decree was issued.
Of those released, 59 were women and 16 were children at the time of their arrest, the network said in a report published on May 27, 2022. The report noted that the amnesty decrees were “decrees of fraud and extortion networks, sponsored by the security services.”
Amongst those released, 11 cases of enforced disappearances were documented between 2011 and 2016. The victims’ families had no information about their whereabouts throughout their detention and forced disappearance, and they were unable to visit or communicate with them, according to the network.
On May 5th, the Association of Detainees and Missing Persons of Sednaya Prison published a statement documenting 103 detainees who had been released from Sednaya prison alone.
The human rights association said the “figure is likely to rise”, and that it has launched an “emergency response campaign” to respond to inquiries from parents and families; provide psychological support; assist in the search process; provide advice and guidance; and/or ask about the detainee or forcibly disappeared’s status. According to the statement, the association will undertake these activities in order to “spare [the families] from extortion and deception under the current circumstances.”
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.