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Syrian Authorities Release Prisoners in Presidential Amnesty

Syrian Authorities Release Prisoners in Presidential Amnesty

Tuesday, 3 May, 2022 - 10:30
A picture from above shows the Eid al-Fitr prayer in a mosque in Idlib, northwest Syria (AFP)

Dozens of prisoners were released in Syria on Monday under the general amnesty issued on the eve of Eid al-Fitr.

A presidential decree called for “granting a general amnesty for terrorist crimes committed by Syrians” before April 30, 2022, “except for those leading to the death of a person,” the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported.

The new amnesty is considered the widest since the start of the conflict in the country in 2011, according to SANA.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Monday that around 60 detainees, some of whom have been detained for 10 years, have been released across Syria.

According to the new decree, “tens of thousands of detainees” are expected to be released, many of whom are accused of “terrorism offences,” which director of SOHR Rami Abdel Rahman described as “a loose label used to convict those who are arbitrarily arrested.”

SOHR data shows that more than 105,000 detainees have been killed under torture in regime prisons since 2011.

Sources reported the return of a number of detainees to their families on the morning of the first day of Eid al-Fitr, as well as the release of dozens of prisoners from several Syrian governorates, including detainees in Sednaya Military Prison, which is one of the most dangerous detention centers inspired by the Soviet architectural style.

Among the released were people who have been sentenced to death, including a detainee from the town of Al-Otaiba in Eastern Ghouta. Others had been detained for more than ten years while their relatives did not have any information about their fate.

President Bashar al-Assad has previously issued several amnesty decrees, the last of which was in May last year, weeks before his re-election as president for a fourth tenure.

Half a million people have entered regime prisons and detention centers since 2011, with around 100,000 dying under torture or as a result of horrific detention conditions, according to SOHR.

Human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, accuse the Syrian regime of exploiting anti-terror laws to “condemn peaceful activists.” The Syrian regime is also accused of torturing inmates to death, of rape, sexual assaults and extrajudicial executions.

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