Last update: February 2023
This profile refers to journalists, other media professionals and bloggers. It also refers to human rights activists, i.e. persons who individually or with others act to promote or protect human rights. For guidance on political opposition activists, see 4.1.3. Political activists, opposition party members and protesters.
[Main COI reference: Targeting 2022, 7, pp. 73-79]
Journalists and media workers in Syria were exposed to major risks and threats during the reference period, including arrests and detention, abductions, attacks as well as killings. Freedom of press was reported to be restricted and journalists faced censorship, torture and death while in custody. Journalists and media workers were targeted by various parties involved in the conflict in Syria: the GoS, Turkish backed forces, forces affiliated with the Kurdish-led AANES, as well as groups such as HTS and ISIL. The situation for journalists remains extremely dangerous throughout Syria and, the few areas that the GoS has not yet retaken reportedly pose a particularly high risk for them.
Human rights defenders in Syria have been also facing an increased risk of targeting after 2011, including reports of arbitrary arrests and detention, abductions, enforced disappearance, torture, prosecution, death threats, restriction of movement, defamation, as well as other forms of intimidation and harassment [Targeting 2020, 8, p. 69]. There were also reports of sexual violence while in detention in the case of women human rights defenders or activists [Targeting 2022, 13.3.2, p. 116].
Different actors may be responsible for the targeting of journalists and of human rights activists in Syria.
Acts reported to be committed against individuals under this profile are of such severe nature that they amount to persecution (e.g. killing, arbitrary arrest, detention without trial, kidnapping, torture, enforced disappearance).
In the case of journalists and human rights activists who are seen as critical by the actor in control of the particular area, well-founded fear of persecution would in general be substantiated.
In the case of other journalists and human rights activists, the individual assessment of whether there is a reasonable degree of likelihood for the applicant to face persecution should take into account risk-impacting circumstances, such as: the topic they report or work on, regional aspects (reach of the actors they report on), visibility, gender, etc.
Nexus to a reason for persecution
Available information indicates that persecution of this profile is highly likely to be for reasons of (imputed) political opinion. In the case of persecution by extremist groups such as the HTS, it may also be for reasons of religion.