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Syria: more than 154,000 people still detained or disappeared since 2011

Khaled Androun, a Lebanese national whose daughter Alaa is a widow of a Daesh group fighter and is currently held at a high-security annex the northeast Syrian camp of al-Hol, shows a photo of his granddaughters on a phone on February 10, 2022 [JOSEPH EID/AFP via Getty Images]
Khaled Androun, a Lebanese national whose daughter Alaa is a widow of a Daesh group fighter and is currently held at a high-security annex the northeast Syrian camp of al-Hol, shows a photo of his granddaughters on a phone on February 10, 2022 [JOSEPH EID/AFP via Getty Images]

The Syrian Network for Human Rights said on Tuesday that at least 154,398 Syrians arrested between March 2011 and August 2022 are still in detention or have been forcibly disappeared by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in their country, Anadolu has reported. That figure includes 5,161 children and 10,159 women.

"The Syrian regime is responsible for the detention of 135,253 individuals, including 3,684 children and 8,469 women, while a further 8,684 individuals, including 319 children and 225 women, were disappeared by Daesh and their whereabouts are unknown," said the network in a report issued on the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. "A further 2,373 individuals, including 46 children and 44 women, are still detained or forcibly disappeared by Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham."

The report noted that other actors on the ground are responsible for the detention of 6,237 individuals, including 4,898 cases of enforced disappearance. Among these are 263 children and 546 women.

The network said that the high number of detainees forcibly disappeared by the Syrian regime clearly shows that the twenty general amnesty decrees issued by the Syrian regime since 2011 have not resulted in the release of tens of thousands of detainees as might be expected.

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"Since March 2018, the Syrian regime has continued to register some of the forcibly disappeared people as deceased through the civil registry departments," the network pointed out. In fact, the regime has claimed that 1,072 forcibly disappeared persons, including nine children and two women, have died. The authorities have neither given the cause of death nor handed over the bodies to the grieving families.

"Under international humanitarian law, commanders and other senior officials are held responsible for war crimes committed by their subordinates," the report added. Forced disappearance has taken place on a systemic basis. The decision to employ this as a policy has come down the chain of command from the President of the Republic and is linked directly to him by the Ministries of Defence and the Interior, the National Security Office and associated security services.

The rights watchdog called on the UN Security Council to hold an emergency session to discuss this issue, which threatens and terrorises all citizens in Syria. It also called on the UN to work towards the discovery of the fate of forcibly disappeared people prior to future rounds of the political process, and set out a strict timetable for their fate to be revealed.

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