2021 – Hundreds of thousands of Prisoners and Forcibly Disappeared in Syria

There are at least 131,469 people subjected to detention and forcible disappearance by the Syrian regime since March 2011, according to the latest international statistics.

Documenting arrests is a complex process due to the practices of the Syrian regime, as the arrests by the Syrian regime and its militias are similar to kidnappings, without a judicial warrant, and the security forces of the four main intelligence services are often responsible for them, Where the authorities deny carrying out arbitrary arrests, and most detainees are forcibly disappeared.

Arrests and enforced disappearances have been documented based on the provisions of international laws and the set of principles related to arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearance.

According to the database, there are at least 149,862 people – including 4,931 children and 9,271 women – who are still under arrest or enforced disappearance at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria from March 2011 until August 2021, including 131,469 people (including 3,621 children and 8,037 women) with the Syrian regime.

The number of forcibly disappeared persons reached 102,287 people – including 2,405 children and 5,801 women – of whom 86,792 are with the Syrian regime forces (including 1,738 children and 4,986 women), and 8,648 people were disappeared by the state organisation (including 319 children and 255 women), and 2,064 (including Including 13 children and 28 women) who have disappeared with Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, and there are 2,567 people – including 237 children and 446 women – who are still subject to enforced disappearance by the various armed opposition factions since 2011 until now.

 2,216 people – including 98 children and 86 women are still subject to enforced disappearance by the Syrian Democratic Forces.

These findings do not include detainees held on criminal grounds, and include cases of political arrests and the internal armed conflict, mainly due to activity opposing the de-facto authority, as well as cases of arrests to suppress freedom of opinion and expression.

We stress that these numbers represent only the minimum number of arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances that we were able to record, and the reality includes thousands of cases that we were unable to document due to the difficulties of the documentation processes.

We also stress that none of the parties to the conflict and the controlling powers provide any public record showing the whereabouts of detainees and the reasons for their arrest, nor the judicial rulings issued against them, including the death penalty, and the vast majority of families do not know the fate of their children.

We point out that the issue of detainees and forcibly disappeared is one of the most important human rights issues, in which no significant progress has occurred despite its inclusion in several resolutions of the UN Security Council and resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly, and we stress that the Syrian regime has not fulfilled any of its obligations in any of the treaties and agreements including the international convention it ratified, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It has also violated several articles of the Syrian constitution itself and continued to detain hundreds of thousands of detainees without an arrest warrant for many years without charges and has prohibited them to hire a lawyer and family visits, and subjected about 68% of the total detainees to enforced disappearance.

We call on the Syrian regime to reveal the fate of about 87,000 forcibly disappeared persons, to immediately release tens of thousands of arbitrarily arrested and detained persons whose sentences have expired, and to stop the brutal torture, and urge the United Nations, the international community and the guarantor parties of the Astana talks to form a special impartial committee to monitor cases of enforced disappearance, and to reveal the fate of nearly 102,000 disappeared in Syria, 85% of whom are held by the Syrian regime, and I o immediately start putting pressure on all parties to immediately disclose the records of their detainees.

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