99’000 disappeared and counting The tale of enforced disappearances in Syria

Fadel Abdul Ghany

SNHR

By:Chase @jiggliemon Wilson

It is estimated that about 1.2 million Syrian citizens have been arrested and detained at some point since March 2011. During this period, an estimated number of 99 000 persons have been forcibly disappeared, while the Syrian Regime is responsible for about 84 000 of these cases (SNHR Report of 30 August of 2020, p. 8, 9).
 
The crime of enforced disappearance, which is often accompanied by acts of torture, violates international law. The Syrian Arab Republic is not a party to the 2006 International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED). However, the prohibition of enforced disappearances flows also from customary rules of international humanitarian law, when taking place within an armed conflict, as well as from the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Syria has ratified.
 
While enforced disappearances are not specific to the Syrian armed conflict and are in fact a common feature of many armed conflicts, the sheer number of enforced disappearances sets Syria apart, especially when compared to the total population of Syria (21 million at the start of the popular uprising in 2011). Assuming that each forcibly disappeared person has at least five family members or friends, nearly half a million individuals are directly affected by the crime of enforced disappearance, i.e. nearly 2.3 % of the total population. This very high percentage has a terrifying effect on the Syrian society as a whole.
 
Published on the Voelkerrechtsblog website.
 

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