A reporter for al Wehda newspaper in Latakia city, named as Kenan Waqqaf, who is originally from Tartus city, was arrested on March 7, 2021, by Syrian regime forces after summoned to Criminal Security Branch in Damascus city over criticizing the living conditions endured by the Syrian public in areas under the Syrian regime’s control on his Facebook account, touching on the issue of rampant corruption in those areas, and taken to an undisclosed location.
Kenan was charged with a generalized accusation of “weakening the nation’s psyche” and a series of other charges related to the regime’s cybercrime law, under which the regime arrests citizens and workers in its institutions for criticizing the poor living conditions in areas under its control.
SNHR notes that these charges are based on vague terms which allow the regime to apply them to any individuals, who can be arrested, tortured and sentenced on the basis of ill-defined terms which can be subject to various types of interpretations. These laws are closer to security provisions in nature since they fundamentally violate the spirit of the law, with the vast majority of legislation issued by the Syrian regime (through the People’s Assembly which is wholly subservient to the regime leadership) blatantly contradicting international human rights law, and restricting freedom of opinion and expression to an alarming degree.
SNHR confirms the lack of any freedom of opinion and expression in Syria in light of the absolute intrusion by the regime’s security services into every detail of citizens’ lives, emphasizing that the Syrian regime relies on a policy of censorship and of stifling media coverage of the reality of events in the country, with these violations, which affect even its loyalists and supporters, being perpetrated in tandem with its killing, arrest and forcible disappearance of the vast majority of its opponents in the areas under its control. It is impossible for any Syrian citizen to attain the most fundamental rights without achieving a political transition in Syria towards democracy and human rights.