A Palestinian man with Jordanian nationality, born in 1953, named as Ismail Ahmad Ibrahim al Shamali, who had been living in Tafas city in the western suburbs of Daraa governorate and worked in trading, was arrested by Syrian regime forces in 1995, and sentenced to life imprisonment by the Supreme State Security Court (an exceptional political security court that lacks the most basic principles of fair trials) for alleged possession of secret documents and confidential information, supposedly to ensure the safety of the state, in accordance with Article 272 of the Syrian Penal Code. This sentence was subsequently commuted to 20 years.
Ismail was transferred between several prisons during the period of his detention, including Seydnaya Military Prison, where he was prevented from contacting his family, then Adra Central Prison, before being transferred to the last one, Suwayda Central Prison. Ismail’s health deteriorated throughout the time of his imprisonment, and he was denied essential medical care, up until December 22, 2020 when warders from al Suwayda Central Prison took him to the National Hospital in Suwayda governorate, where he died two days later on December 24, with his body being handed over to his family. SNHR received information confirming that he had died due to the medical negligence he suffered in Suwayda Central Prison, although we have received no information confirming that he or any criminal prisoners held in that prison died due to infection with COVID-19.
According to information received from his family, Ismail wrote several political books, but was unable to have any of them published due to his detention, with the Syrian regime refusing to release him despite the end of his sentence.
We note that a release warrant had been issued in mid-December for Ismail al Shamali in relation to the main charges against him, while another warrant was issued by Suwayda Central Prison in relation to another case against him on December 20, 2020. In the days before his death, Ismail was awaiting the arrival at the prison of the warrant for his release.
SNHR can confirm that at least 130,758 Syrian citizens are still detained or forcibly disappeared in the regime’s detention centers, constituting a grave threat to the detainees’ wellbeing, given the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.