Established by Fathi Ibrahim Bayoud 2005 - Homs

Burglary mounts in opposition-held Daraa province

Features | 2018-02-05 10:16:47
Burglary mounts in opposition-held Daraa province
(Zaman Al Wasl)- The Syrian people’s calamities have continued without giving citizens a chance to catch their breaths. Syrians have been destined to swing between the trials of death, displacement and destruction as they watch a lifetime of effort disappear before their eyes. For many, the pain comes in thieves taking advantage of their displacement and migration to rob empty houses. For many still the pain is made sharper as they believe that it is actually relatives and kin who robbed their houses. 

Theft is a widespread phenomena in the liberated areas, and no town or city has not witnessed cases of theft. An increased number of thefts have come to light as refugees return to their homes due to the recent de-escalation of tension in areas. These refugees returned to find their houses empty and even “the electricity cables in the walls, the kitchen table tops, marble floor and water tanks” taken. 

Mohammed al-Haraki said that “the house that was spared from al-Assad’s barrels and missiles, was targeted by thieves and bandits, who found the events a lucrative opportunity,” noting that the phenomenon of "theft was not just witnessed on the other side but also in liberated areas.” 

Al-Haraki praised the efforts of the Free Syrian Army to fight off the thieves and chase them, stressing the need to establish a police force with broad powers, because “the task of the Free [Syrian Army] is to be stationed at the gaps and not in front of civilian homes to protect them.”

Abu Abdullah al-Azali, the commander of the al-Mansour Brigade in the town of Nawa, explained that the brigade receive complaints in the event some residents were robbed in the areas under their control. He confirmed that the brigade has managed to contain the area to a large extent thanks to the great cooperation between factions and residents in the area, and the widespread distribution of checkpoints. Al-Azali explained that the brigade is working to secure the cities under their control using checkpoints positioned at the entrances of the cities and central roads in the region. Through the checkpoints, they protect the cities and the roads connecting cities from any theft, and the factions deployed in these cities usually conduct night patrols to protect the area.”

Al-Azali told Zaman Al-Wasl that “these checkpoints greatly reduced the number of thefts in the area as well as securing major roads from regime agents who plant explosive devices in secondary roads to assassinate people. The checkpoints also reduced the number of stealth operations the Islamic State forces could execute especially in the western areas.” 

Al-Azali stressed the need for a moral conscience, which rules and influences people’s relations and is a basic method in determining their way of life. At the same time, he expressed the hope that the Free Army secure the entire liberated areas as “cooperation between all military factions and connecting the area with a communication mechanism to coordinate among them in the future, is crucial to prevent any disruption or encroachment on civilians.”

Jihad Khatib, the head of the Public Prosecution in the Court of Justice in Horan, said that the number of complaints of theft filed with the Court exceeded 2000 complaints. He explained that in proportion to other crimes, theft represents 30% of the complaints filed. He added that “not all the crimes committed are registered or reach the Court of Justice for several reasons, as tests are not considered part of the statistics, and what is meant by this is thefts where the [house] owners did not file against anyone.” 

Al-Khatib clarified that most of the thieves are between the ages of 15 and 25, citing that the reasons for them to engage in robbery are “the lack of employment opportunities, being denied an education, and the house owners have vacated their homes due to the displacement, bombing and destruction the regime has carried out against the liberated areas. This phenomenon increases in societies during revolutions, conflicts and wars.”

Al-Khatib stressed that the Court of Justice in Horan dealt with all the cases submitted to it, but, at the same time, he pointed out that not all crimes of theft are referred to the Court of Justice for different reasons, including “Some forgive and do not lodge a complaint to the court because there are relations, knowledge of or connections which prevent them submitting a claim or complaint to the Court of Justice. Also some people prefer to solve the problems outside the judiciary with the help of mediators.” 

In response to a question about the deterrent measures, al-Khatib said to Zaman al-Wasl, “The Court of Justice takes the maximum penalty in many cases of thefts and increases the sentence of imprisonment and fines in the event of repeated offense. The Court also provides guidance and awareness for inmates to show them the danger of continuing to commit this crime and others after they are out of prison. The Court is trying to rehabilitate them to change their behavior through specialists and within the Court’s modest possibilities.” 

Al-Khatib said, “Dealing with the theft as soon as it is registered in the courts. The preliminary investigation will be within the jurisdiction of the Public Prosecution and after the investigation is completed, the prosecution will refer the case papers to the criminal court, misdemeanor court, the investigative judge according to specialization.” 

Al-Khatib said that the specialist court will then issue the ruling and the parties to the case may appeal it to the Court of Cassation. After the judgment takes a peremptory nature, the sentence will be executed against the offender according to the period to which he was sentenced.

Reporting by Mohamed al-Hammadi
Zaman Al Wasl
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