Over 100,000 people in Syria have allegedly been detained, abducted, or gone missing since the beginning of the eight-year civil war, the United Nations (UN) political chief said yesterday.
Rosemary DiCarlo made the statement during a UN Security Council session in which she called for all parties to heed the council’s call to release all those unreasonably detained without charge and to provide information to families regarding their loved ones, as is required by international law.
She also informed the council that while the number was at least 100,000, it was a rough estimate and the UN could not fully verify the figure due to the fact that the organisation has been unable to gain access to sites where detainees are held in Syria. The information and statistics comes from accounts supported and confirmed by the Commission of Inquiry on Syria – authorised by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) – and human rights organisations since the conflict started in 2011.
Present at the council meeting were Syrian individuals and families who lost relatives to abductions by the regime, providing the most powerful body in the UN with the chance to hear directly from those affected. One Syrian woman named Amina Khoulani testified that her three brothers were taken by the Syrian regime eight years ago and died in detention, her husband was detained for two and a half years and survived, and she was imprisoned for six months herself.
The United Nations Security Council has utterly failed Syrian detainees and their families
Khoulani stated. “It’s your responsibility to protect Syrians from a system that kills, tortures, and illegally detains its own citizens, in systematic violation of international law.”
In response to the testimonies and the UN’s condemnation of Syrian violations of human rights, regime ally Russia dismissing what it called “unverified and extremely non-objective data regarding the situation in Syria.” Moscow’s Deputy Ambassador Dmitry Polyansky added that while the Syrian regime was not being given the chance to present its account, those Syrians opposed to it who he called “outright terrorists” were instead “being presented as innocent victims”.
Throughout the conflict, and particularly in the past few months, details of the extent of the abductions, treatment, poor prison conditions, rape, and torture conducted by the Syrian regime on innocent civilians have emerged. In June this year, the Syrian Human Rights Network reported that over 14,000 civilians in Syria have been tortured to death by the Assad regime and its forces since the start of the civil war. Last week, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights revealed that in the month of July alone, 598 people were subject to arbitrary detention, mostly at the hands of the Syrian regime.