Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) is an independent non-governmental non-profit organization. We seek to build a society that guarantees freedom of expression and belief, human rights and justice. Our vision is a democratic world based on justice, freedom, equality and respect for human rights and dignity.
Since establishment in 2004, we work to defend oppressed individuals due to their beliefs or opinions, as well as promoting human rights and supporting and developing independent, critical and professional media. SCM is in special consultative status with UN ECOSOC since 2011.
A democratic world based on justice, freedom and equality that respects human dignity and human rights.
To achieve a world that respects human rights and dignity, we base our work on the following values:
Cooperation and collaboration
We carry out our work through three thematic units.
The JRL seeks to guarantee respect for human rights, combat impunity and enable victims to achieve justice through:
· Enhancement of the culture of justice and accountability, managing their programs and spreading awareness of their importance.
· Strategic litigation for the accountability of grave human rights violations committed in Syria by all parties of the conflict, specifically through studying and implementing the principle of Universal Jurisdiction.
· Investigation, documentation, classification and preservation of evidence of human rights violations for the sake of utilizing it in the accountability efforts and interactions with international mechanisms.
· Seeking to develop its work to deal with violations and prosecution on the basis of legal underpinnings such as those related to children, sexual violence, torture and others.
· Working towards eliminate all forms of discrimination and persecution against the vulnerable and the marginalized groups.
· Supporting legal reform, law-making, policies and legislative frameworks to guarantee basic human rights for everybody in the society.
· Guaranteeing transitional justice process in Syria in line with international standards that ensure the representation, participation, and leadership of victims, women and marginalized Syrian groups in general.
· Building partnerships and corporations within the human rights and justice domains, and eliminating impunity.
· Enabling and training staff and organizations in the justice and human rights fields inside and outside Syria.
The JRL is planning to expand the good use of the principle of universal jurisdiction in European and other non-European countries in the near future.
· Continuity: The JRL lacks financial and organizational stability due to lack of sustainable resources that guarantee the continuation of accumulated and interconnected activities. This financial shortfall specifically hinders building a long-term strategy, establishing connections between victims and the families and supporting its subsistence and its ability to affect decision-makers. It also makes it difficult to build comprehensive legal cases without the need for support or dependence on local partners.
· Reach: The unit has relationships and capacity that enable it to reach victims and witnesses in addition to gathering evidence. However, many difficulties make it beyond reach in many instances; lack of resources needed to secure required materials, protecting the people in question or the families or protecting the people performing such activities, to mention a few.
· Confidence: the unit exerts huge efforts during the process of searching and communicating with victims or the relatives or witnesses or others in question in order to enhance the confidence and the possibility of achieving justice, this is due to the accumulation of frustrations and losing faith in the process.
· Political constraints: in many instances, the unit faces indifferent or underestimating attitudes towards the issue of accountability and justice due to the general political direction towards settlement. Many state actors prefer to overlook the significance of achieving justice for the victims as a pivotal part of a sustainable and peaceful resolution in Syria. This negatively affects the availability of resources, effective networking and facilitation of the process of strategic litigation.
· Competitiveness: the unit does not seek to compete with any Syrian or non-Syrian organizations in relation to strategic litigation. On the contrary it seeks to share its expertise, knowledge and relationships with everybody for the purpose of supporting justice and accountability efforts. However, many organizations deal with this issue from a competitive perspective, depriving the litigation process of its essence and contributing to the loss of confidence in people working in this area by donors.
· Security: the nature of the unit’s work means that all parties to the conflict can be targeted, especially when dealing with sensitive cases or violations on high levels. This necessitates that team members are on high security alert in many cases.
Based on the fact that freedom of expression and belief is the foundation upon which democratic and free societies are built. The MFU seeks to achieve its goal of society where freedom of expression and belief are fully respected through:
· Providing media workers and human rights defenders with a comprehensive supporting platform, which is capable of responding to their needs and enabling them of developing their abilities.
· Combatting hate speech and incitement to violence.
· Reviewing local legislations, laws, instructions and provide practical recommendations to bring them in line with international standards.
· Supporting enabling approaches based on gender equality and participation, and managing differences and diversity.
· Continual changes in the situation in the areas we work and in the policies related to Syria regionally and internationally.
· Lack of clear and continuous support mechanisms in the fields of media and human rights.
· Scarcity of resources of support and the lack of their diversity.
· Weakness of media expertise inside Syria, and lack of prioritization of media development owing to the security situation.
· Poor coordination in general regarding the development of work in the fields of media and human rights and between organizations in these fields.
The CSU enables civil society to improve its effectiveness and form opinions as well as practicing its role in the development of institutions based on good governance. Such organizations. provide rules and standards for integrity and transparency in accordance with democracy and human rights law. They also engage in making policies that supports civil society which is able to deal with post-conflict issues, play different long-term and effective roles in legal and international forums and through United Nations mechanisms. The CSU aims to enhance the role of civil society in order to build sustainable peace in Syria.
The CSU undertakes this through:
· Strategic advocacy towards international stakeholders on the issues of freedom of expression, justice and the role of civil society.
· Providing safe space for Syrian civil society organizations to develop common opinions, joint work strategies and to build social gaps and rifts.
· Enabling and training civil society activists on international human rights mechanisms and how to undertake strategic advocacy.
· Promotion of human rights values within civil society.
· SCM is the only Syrian organization in consultative status with UN ECOSOC. This imposes additional responsibilities and burdens on the center and requires its continuous presence at the United Nations duty stations i.e. Geneva – New York.
· Sustainability: this is the most prominent challenge which reflects not only the crisis of limited support (financial challenge), but also the problem of short term partnerships.
· Capacity: limited Syrian activists’ knowledge, expertise and specialization in the UN’s working mechanisms and international advocacy mechanisms.
Approaches to combating terrorism: most approaches are directed towards security solutions which tackle the outcomes of terrorism without finding solutions for the reasons behind its emergence, and without protecting societies from the possibility of its re-emergence. The solution is to build a civil society that is able to face the reasons of political, economic, and social extremism.