After a relative decrease, abductions for ransom are firmly back in al-Sweida province, as 21 persons kidnapped between October 1 and November 13, 2018, and only five of whom returned home while the other 16 remained unaccounted for, as reported by local activists.
Perpetrators, who are known for the most part, are often not held accountable- by relevant government authorities- since the abductees’ families do not advance claims for fear of possible reprisal acts in response.
12 of the 21 abductees are from al-Sweida, including a girl child, 7 from Daraa, including a child, 1 from Damascus and one from unidentified province.
Details of all abduction incidents, took place in al-Sweida, are published on Al-Suwayda 24 website.
Ghaydaq al-Massalmeh, a child, and Khalid al-Awaji, a man, who were among Daraa abductees, released without paying ransoms after intervention by dignitaries and Akl Sheikhdom of al-Sweida, said Mohammed al-Share', member of the Daraa Martyrs Documentation Office, through an interview with STJ on November 14, 2018.
Regarding this, STJ’s legal advisor said that the kidnappers go unpunished, though known, for the abductees’ relatives’ fear of the kidnappers to carry out their direct threats of reprisal in case complaints filed against them. Public prosecution, however, can’t take any action without receiving personal claims.
The advisor added that the very few formal complaints filed, resulted in the mere held of the kidnappers for few days to be released under mediation of their collaborators at the security services.
The Syrian Penal Code provides penalties for the crime of abduction, which defined according to the Syrian Law as:
To deprive a person of his personal liberty by violent means and held him/her in a place, under the kidnappers’ surveillance for political, religious or moral purposes.
The Syrian Penal Code Articles that mentioned the abduction crime:
Article 478: Anyone who abducts a child under seven years of age shall be punished by imprisonment for a term of three months to one year.
Article 481: Every person who abducts or takes away a minor under 18 years of ages hall be liable to imprisonment for a term of six months to three years. Where the minor is abducted or taken away by deception or force, the penalty shall be a term of imprisonment at hard labor.
Article 500: Every person who abducts a girl or woman for the purpose of marriage shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of three to nine years.
Article 501: Every person who abducts any person for the purpose of committing an indecent act shall be liable to nine years at hard labor. Where the indecent act is actually committed, the penalty shall be not less than 21 years.
Article 555 of the Penal Code prescribes a penalty of detention for a period of six months to two years for anyone who in any way deprives another person of his personal liberty.
Article 556 of the Penal Code prescribes a penalty of detention for more than a month for anyone who deprives another person of his personal liberty.
This article was amended under decree No. 21 of 2012 for the execution of judgement to incarceration with a term of hard labor or hard labor for life (ten to twenty years) in case: the person who forbidden freedom has been subjected to physical or mental torture; and the payment of twice the mentioned amount for any person who, by force or deception deprived anyone of freedom for ransom.
Decree 20 of 2013: the first article reads: "whomever kidnap any person would be served with hard labor life term in prison". the second article increases the punishment to the capital punishment (execution) in case someone is killed as a result of the kidnapping, the kidnap causes a permanent disability to the kidnaped, or in case the victim was sexually assaulted by the kidnapper/s.
The kidnapping crime must be considered as a “crime against community”, which means that the Public Prosecution must take action against kidnappers without the need for personal claims, the advisor concluded.