Geneva – Young man Jaafar Al-Kafri from Al-Mataaiyah village, southern Syria, has died shortly after he was released from the prison of Fifth Corps of the Syrian Army, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said in a statement on 12 July 2021, expressing its deep concern.
Eyewitnesses confirmed that Al-Kafri was unconscious when he was released, with many bruises on his body as he was assaulted in prison.
Members of the Eighth Brigade in the Fifth Corps had arrested Al-Kafri after beating him following storming his family's house and shooting one of his relatives, Samer Al-Kafri. He was transferred to the Busra al-Sham city hospital, which is under heavy security protection of the Eighth Brigade.
On July 7, members of the Eighth Brigade raided Al-Mataaiyah village after a leader in the brigade named Talal Al-Shaqran and a member named Mohammed Al-Muhailan were killed in clashes between the brigade's members and armed residents of the village. Two other members of the brigade were injured during the clashes.
The Eighth Brigade forces raided Al-Mataaiyah village after the incident, burned a number of houses and launched a campaign of arrests including Jaafar Al-Kafri and about 35 others. All of those arrested were put in Al-Qala’a Prison in Busra Al-Sham. Seven of them were released on Saturday including Al-Kafri after suffering severe injuries as a result of torture inside prison.
A.K., a relative of Al-Kafri, told Euro-Med Monitor: “Members of the Eighth Brigade released Jaafar, but he was unconscious due to severe torture. He was transferred to Dara’a National Hospital and then to Damascus due to his critical health condition”.
“Jaafar was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and he stayed there for hours and then died,” he added. “He suffered from brain bleeding because of the severe beating, which led to bleeding in two different parts of his brain. He too suffered bruises in the chest and from low creatine levels as a result of dehydration, which caused a defect in the functions of the kidneys”.
A detainee released with him, who asked to keep his identity secret, told Euro-Med Monitor: "We were subjected to severe torture inside the Al-Qala’a prison. Three to four people took turns torturing us”.
Omar Al-Ajlouni, a researcher at Euro-Med Monitor, said the attack by the residents of Al-Mataaiyah village against the Fifth Corps should not result in reactionary measures outside the law. Members of the Fifth Corps should abide by legal procedures when dealing with individuals in all circumstances.
The announced goal of forming the Eighth Brigade was to protect the Dara’a Governorate but the brigade has committed many violations during the past years, most prominently illegally detaining individuals in a secret prison in Busra al-Sham. In addition, several cases of deaths under torture took place at the hands of the brigade's members, the latest of which was the death of Al-Kafri.
The Syrian Ministry of Defense should open an immediate investigation into the death of Al-Kafri under torture, hold all involved individuals accountable, immediately release detainees from the village of Al-Mataaiyah and stop all forms of torture and violations against detainees inside prisons.