In April 2019: 5 violations documented, Syria blacklisted at the end of 2019 World Press Freedom Index

Syria is still one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists and media professionals. Violations against media continue to occur in Syria in various forms and methods. The SCJF of SJA documented five violations in April 2019. 

It is worth mentioning that four violations were committed in last April while one violation was committed in March 2019.   

The violations were documented according to the SCJF’s methodology of documentation. Thus, April witnessed a slight decline in the number of violations compared to that documented in previous months (March: 16, February: 9 violations).

The continuity of torture killings in prisons by the Syrian regime besides pressuring media freedoms by HTS are the main reasons for documented violations in April 2019.

The declined pace of military operations in Syria caused changes in the line of violation from one month to another. Military operations, though, have been restricted to areas in northern and eastern Syrian areas. And, intermittent bombing has been carried out by the Syrian regime and allied Russia. The shelling continues in April 2019, albeit at a lesser pace compared to that in the same months in previous years.

It is worth mentioning that HTS tops those responsible for violations by committing 3 violations while the Syrian regime has committed the deadliest violation against one media professional by killing him under torture. The Syrian regime, also, arrested another media professional. 

In April 2019, the SCJF documented the killing of one media professional under torture in the regime’s detention centers. 

Also, the Syrian regime arrested and detained two other media professionals. The family of media professional Ali Osman aka al-Jad received in the last month a document of Ali’s death from civil registry in Homs city after an arrest lasted seven years in the regime's detention centers. Thus, the number of killed media professionals documented by the SCJF has risen to 448 since mid-March 2011.    

The SCJF documented the arrest of Hashtag Syria website’s owner Muhammed Harsho for one day after publishing news about the regime’s willingness to increase fuel price in Syria. While HTS in Darret Izza (in Aleppo western countryside) arrested media professional Muhammed Nur Marroush for several hours. HTS also arrested media professional Ahmad al-Hamoud aka Abu Hasan al-Janobi for 3 days in Idlib countryside. Furthermore, the SCJF documented the arrest of media professional Majed al-Omari by HTS on March 9, 2019, in Aleppo countryside under the pretext of his media work and activity opposing HTS. Though, he was released on 23 March 2019.

The SCJF monitored in April 2019 the developments of media field in Syria. The South African photographer Shiraz Muhammed abducted by unidentified gunmen in Idlib countryside on January 10, 2017, appeared in a recorded 30-second video which proves that the photographer is alive, according to an official of the South African humanitarian NGO Gift of Givers. 

Syria continues to be extremely dangerous for media professionals and is blacklisted in the World Press Freedom Index 2019 published on April 18, 2019, by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) entitled “2019 World Press Freedom Index – A cycle of fear.

The 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by (RSF) shows how hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence, contributing to an increase in fear. The number of countries regarded as safe, where journalists can work in complete security, continues to decline, while authoritarian regimes continue to tighten their grip on the media. From 180 countries, Syria comes 174th, slightly, a better rank than that recorded in the last year.

In April 2019, each of Damascus and Aleppo witnessed two violations while Idlib witnessed one violation.

For the full version of the report please download it in PDF format from the attached link