The Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression issues a special report on human rights violations committed against Syrian journalists and bloggers, as well as against international and Arab media reporters working in Syria following the eruption of the Syrian uprising. The report entitled "Wind of Repression Blows against Media Writers in Syria," specifically documents cases that occurred between February and October 2011.
SCM notes that the center"s crew has faced many challenges in preparing the report. One notable challenge was the difficulty to confirm the information coming from authorities, especially after security branches had recently turned into judicial offices where a detainee is held for a maximum of 60 days, becomes renewable when such time limit expires.
Another challenge is authorities" deliberate abstention from confirming on whether the detainee is in custody or not , in which case, the detainee becomes "missing" until the limit of sixty days expires.
Add to that the difficulty to monitor all violations committed against media workers in other Syrian cities, especially that the Syrian authorities have prevented, for example, the media from entering Daraa province in the first three months of the Syrian uprising.
Despite all these challenges, the Center was able to monitor 114 human rights violation cases against 99 media workers between February and October 2011. SCM notes that some journalists and bloggers were subjected to harassment and human rights violations more than once.
As shown in the report, several Syrian and international media workers have been forced to resign due to pressures, or their refusal to cover current events in Syrian State"s approach, or due to positions towards current events in Syria. There were cases documented in which citizens have been harassed over contacting Arab and international media outlets and expressing their views on current events.
Additionally, SCM was able to observe cases where unknown groups and individuals have harassed journalists working at Syrian State TV or other Syrian media outlets that hold close relations with authorities.
The journalists" safety is protected by international conventions, as well as by the Syrian Constitution, accordingly, these violations committed against media workers in Syria contradict Security Council resolution 1738 (December 2006) which calls for the need to treat journalists as civilians and to be protected at times of violent conflict. This resolution is adopted by several international agreements and treaties that emphasize the need to protect journalists at times of armed conflict. Geneva Convention of 12 August in 1949, for example, constitute the foundations to protect prisoners at times of war. Moreover, protocols issued on 8 June 1977, particularly article number 79, stresses the need to protect journalists engaged in dangerous professional missions at times of armed conflict.
Based on the above, the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression demands the Syrian authorities to immediately release all journalists and bloggers detained in several security branches, and to allow the media to work freely in Syria with guarantees for their safety.
Read our full report and view the list of detained journalists and bloggers in Syria here.