Syria: Demand an End to Enforced Disappearances


Syrian "citizen journalist" Ali Mahmoud Othman hasn't been seen since he was arrested by Syrian authorities in March 2014. Amnesty International believe Othman was "disappeared" for his efforts in bringing the world's attention to human rights abuses in Syria.
Amnesty International has been documenting cases of enforced disappearance in Syria since the late 1970s. However, the number of persons subjected to enforced disappearance has sharply risen since the beginning of the crisis in 2011.

Some Syrian victims remain missing – their fate or whereabouts unknown to their families, who are often in anguish and despair. Others who were subjected to enforced disappearance but eventually released after languishing for months in secret detention have told Amnesty International about the torture and other ill-treatment they endured.


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Message Recipient: Syrian Arab Republic President Bashar al-Assad
I am writing to express concern about reports that the Syrian state has subjected individuals to enforced disappearance and to call on you to ensure that the Syrian authorities immediately cease this practice and that all those suspected of criminal responsibility are brought to trial.

Enforced disappearance is a crime under international law and is prohibited by both international human rights law and international humanitarian law. This practice violates a person's human right to security and dignity, to humane conditions of detention, to legal personality, to fair trial and to family life. According to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to which Syria is a signatory state, enforced disappearance can also constitute a crime against humanity when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population. UN Security Council Resolution 2139 of February 2014 further demands an immediate end to this practice in Syria.

We therefore urge you as the head of state to:
  • reveal the fate, whereabouts and legal status of all those subjected to enforced disappearance in Syria and grant them immediate access to their families, lawyers and any medical attention they may require
  • ensure that no one is held in secret detention, and that all detainees are protected from torture and other ill-treatment
  • ensure that the Syrian authorities comply without further delay with their obligations under international law and fully
  • effectively implement Resolution 2139, end the practice of enforced disappearances and immediately and unconditionally release all those detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their human rights, including their rights to freedom of expression and assembly
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