Documenting Cases of Arrest Methodology


Since the year 2011, Human Rights Activists who were gathered later on by the Urnammu foundation were interested in the documentation of all cases that are reported and monitoring the situation of arbitrary detainees and disappeared people, and aimed for documenting their names and testimonies according to international standards including commitment to Integrity, transparency and accuracy and they made sure to give female detainees priority and special attention.

The methodology of Urnammu in documenting cases of arrest:

There are several levels of work according to the possibility and purpose:

  1. The first level is documenting individual cases by contacting family members to ensure accuracy of the information and lodging individual complaints by telling the family about the procedures of the United Nations (UN) in order to facilitate the access to these procedures.
  2. The second level is documenting the lists and names of detainees and the disappeared in general in all regions by the various parties -as much as possible- Through people within Syria and those are either accredited reporters or local authoritative activists whether working in the field of human rights or the media sphere that, in every province, area or neighborhood -unless that was impossible-.

And for every person that gets arrested there is one form (record or register) even if he\she were repeatedly arrested. General lists are archived and scrutinized by an electronic program available on the web, designed by a specialist in Arabic archiving system. that avoids individual mistakes through the fragmentation of files and identifiers (forms) and comparing all the records of the databases and examining them to avoid repetition , also through taking backup copies on a regular basis , and in case news came in about the sentencing or the death or the release of someone, we do the necessary adjustments then repeat the examination process and so on .. and it’s kept to a database on it’s own server on the internet.

The organization doesn’t have the slightest interest in disseminating the private information that it receives regarding detainees, unless there was a direct request or need to do so , used only in the internal documentation process, periodic updating of the statistics and advocacy issues or cases, or in very rare cases of exchange taking into account very strict standards to ensure safety and security of detainees, in deference to the desire of most of their families.

Death inside detention centers:

Regarding the documentation of death cases during detention , the working group is aware of the caution and accuracy needed in their work as it’s very difficult to affirm death due to not giving the corpses of the detained to their relatives in most cases , and in very rare cases the families were allowed to only see a picture of the corpse . The team documents the death of the detainee either by the family , in case they got a direct phone call about it , or through the local -Field person- in the district (like activists and others), or after checking with military police headquarters In Kaboun , Damascus .Or identifying their sons pictures published by the so-called caesar. Sometimes detainees that had been released report the death of compatriots that dies before their eyes before being released.

Documenting the date of death, if the death certificate wasn’t handed to the family, it is documented according to the date of such notification. And that could be after several weeks if not months after the actual time of death. The date of death can be documented according to the date of sight, location, personal details, way of death and sources of information.

Partial Information are not overlooked, in order overlooked, in order to be completed later, and naturally, the organization always seeks to audit it’s data and matching information by checking several sources.

Custodial parties:

It’s the party which conducted the detention. Whether it was the Syrian government, the state organization (Daesh-ISIS), people’s committees (government), Unidentified gunmen (opposition), Al Nosra front, Armed factions identified with the faction that holds the person , people’s protection units, other conflicting parties are added accordingly.

Detention centers:

Normal prison: Means the civil central prisons in various Syrian provinces.

Security branch: This means that the person is detained in a known security branch.

Unknown prison: This means that the person is detained in an unknown security branch or a secret location.