UN member states should establish an "international, independent" entity to track and identify those missing and forcibly disappeared since the start of the Syrian crisis in 2011, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International demanded yesterday.
"Member states should do everything in their power to ensure that a new international body in line with the secretary general's recommendations is established quickly through General Assembly action," said HRW and Amnesty. The rights groups urged countries with influence in Syria "to put pressure on the conflict parties to act swiftly to resolve what has come to be seen as one of the major tragedies of the Syrian conflict."
In a joint statement, the rights groups accused the Syrian regime of being responsible for the "vast majority" of such disappearances. "These frequently result in deaths in custody and extrajudicial executions," they pointed out.
"The practice of disappearing people in Syria has left a devastating legacy for hundreds of thousands of people and their loves ones," HRW's deputy Middle East and North Africa (MENA) director, Adam Coogle, told journalists. He explained that the establishment of an international entity to address what he described as the "devastating unfinished business that can never be overlooked from the Syrian conflict" would offer a "glimmer of hope for families."
Amnesty International's acting MENA deputy director, Diana Samaan, added that a new international body would provide a "way to fulfil the families' right to truth." She called on UN member states to "rally behind" the proposal.