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UN Report: Without a Trace: Enforced Disappearances in Syria

Published December 19, 2013

This investigative report from a UN panel was released December 19, 2013 and uncovered a consistent country-wide pattern in which people, mainly adult males, have been seized by the Syrian security and armed forces, as well as by pro-Government militias, during mass arrests, house searches, at checkpoints and in hospitals.

"The Government has perpetuated a system of arrests and incommunicado detention that is conducive to enforced disappearances. In some instances, the disappearances appeared to have a punitive element, targeting family members of defectors, activists, fighters as well as those believed to be providing medical care to the opposition.

"In all the cases documented by the Commission, survivors of enforced disappearances described being subjected to torture during their detention. The Commissioners note that this underscores a deeply disturbing trend which sheds more light on the systematic use of torture. Victims were consistently denied their fundamental right to due process and placed outside the protection of the law, at the mercy of their captors.

"The Commission also concludes that authorities have refused to provide information about the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared and in some instances there appeared to be a policy of not providing such information to families. Evidence collected also indicates that relatives who approached the security services were themselves arrested in certain cases. As a result, Syrian authorities have further violated the families' right to know the truth regarding the circumstances of the enforced disappearance and the fate of the disappeared person."

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