Paris – The SNHR has briefed the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances on the case of the teacher, Moutaz Awad Yousef, born in 1978, from Kansafra village in the southern suburbs of Idlib governorate, who was teaching mathematics prior to his arrest. He was arrested on August 5, 2013, by gunmen affiliated with the Syrian regime’s State Security Force, while he was passing through one of the regime’s checkpoints at the southern entrance to Tartus city, as he was traveling from Kansafra village to Tartus city (for medical treatment), and taken to an undisclosed location. Since that date, he has been forcibly disappeared. His fate remains unknown to the SNHR, as well as to his family.
The SNHR has also briefed the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, as well as briefing the UN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, specifically in regard to Mahmoud’s case.
The Syrian authorities have denied any connection with the disappearance of the teacher, Moutaz Awad Yousef. The SNHR has been unable to determine his fate, as have his family members, who fear that they may be arrested and tortured by regime personnel themselves if they continue to ask about his whereabouts and fate, as has happened in numerous previous cases.
The SNHR has called on the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearance, the United Nations Committee on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, to intervene and to demand that the Syrian authorities release Mahmoud immediately, as well as to secure the release of thousands of other forcibly disappeared citizens whose whereabouts and current conditions must also be revealed.
Although the Syrian government is not a party to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, it is indisputably a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Arab Charter on Human Rights. Enforced disappearance constitutes a violation of both instruments.
SNHR also confirms that there are well-founded fears that many of those forcibly disappeared by the Syrian regime since 2011 may have been subjected to torture and possibly killed in regime detention, with the number of citizens forcibly disappeared by the regime continuing to grow.