Paris – The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) has briefed the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances on the case of the college student, Muhammad Khalaf al Sharif, born in 1988, who was a college student at the Faculty of Arts, Department of Arabic Language at Damascus University prior to his arrest. Muhammad, from J’aifinet al Mashi village in Abu Qalqal district, which is administratively a part Manbej city in the northeastern suburbs of Aleppo governorate, was living in al Hiza village in Abu Qalqal district at the time of his arrest. In October 2013, while the college student Muhammad was passing through one of the Syrian regime forces’ checkpoints on the road between al Dmair city in Damascus Suburbs governorate and Damascus city, personnel from the Syrian regime’s Air Security Force arrested him, and took him 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 UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and 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 Muhammad’s case.
The Syrian authorities have denied any connection with the enforced disappearance of the college student, Muhammad Khalaf al Sharif. 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 UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, as well as 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 Muhammad 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.