Syria: fears for 16-year-old boy held in Damascus detention centre since November

Smuggled note details asthmatic teenager’s deteriorating health

The Syrian authorities must immediately reveal the whereabouts of a 16-year-old boy who has been missing since November, said Amnesty International today.

The 16-year-old - Ahmed Ismael al-‘Akkad - was arrested when authorities raided the predominantly Sunni Muslim al-Midan neighbourhood of the Syrian capital, Damascus.

According to a Syrian human rights organisation, there were heavy clashes between Syrian government forces and armed opposition groups in neighbourhoods close to al-Midan shortly before the raid which led to the teenager’s arrest.

Ahmed’s family say they have not received any information regarding his arrest and detention and are too afraid to ask the authorities for information about his whereabouts. However, his family received a smuggled note from the teenager 40 days after his arrest, in which he said his health was deteriorating due to cramped and humid prison conditions and a lack of medication for his asthma.

The note was smuggled out by detainees released from the Palestine Branch - a detention centre in Damascus - where Amnesty has documented torture over many years and where Ahmed said he was being held.

The reasons for Ahmed Ismael al-‘Akkad’s arrest are unclear. Syrian government forces have arrested thousands of people, including Children's rights, since widespread unrest broke out in March 2011. Many, if not most, have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment in prisons and detention centres run by Syria’s feared security agencies.

Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Ann Harrison said:

“The Syrian authorities must reveal Ahmed Ismael al-Akkad’s whereabouts and fate. 

“He must be granted immediate access to his family and lawyer, and receive any medication he needs to control his asthma.

“They must also ensure he is protected from the systematic torture or other ill-treatment we know occurs in Syrian prisons. More than 1,000 detainees are reported to have died in custody since March 2011, most, apparently, from the effects of torture or other ill-treatment. This tidal wave of death must be stopped.

“The authorities must clarify Ahmed Ismael al-Akkad’s legal status. If he is held solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and assembly, he should be released immediately and unconditionally.”

The Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates that the detention of Children's rights should be a last resort and that Children's rights in detention should be held separately from adults in facilities that meet the particular needs of Children's rights in custody.

Note to editors:
On Friday 3 May Amnesty International will publish a new 56-page report on Syria - Shooting the Messenger: Journalists targeted by all sides in Syria.

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