Due to the widespread perpetration of enforced disappearance in states ruled by dictators and military regimes such as Latin America, the United Nation declared the 30th of August to be international Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance. On this occasion, enforced disappearance in Syria should be highlighted as tens of thousands have become forcibly-disappeared over the past three years. The United Nations’ International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance classifies this crime as a crime against humanity because it entails many violations of human rights, which affect the victims and their families.
The Syrian regime has systematically perpetrated this crime for decades. Hafez-Al-Assad used this crime as a method to strengthen his rule and to silence dissents. Additionally, the policy of enforced disappearance has affected the families of the victims for many years. It is estimated that about 17,000 persons had been victimized by this crime since the 1980s. The families of the victims have been suffering from systematic governmental discrimination since 1979. When the Syrian revolution erupted in 2011, the intensity and the scope of the violations committed increased tremendously to include enforced disappearance. The documented number of cases recorded since the beginning of the Syrian revolution reached more than 53,000 cases. The United Nations acknowledged in most of its reports that enforced disappearance in Syria is being used in a widespread manner as a war tactic to terrorize civilians.
The Syrian Commission for Transitional Justice (SCTJ) affirms that the widespread perpetration of enforced disappearance by the Syrian regime against tens of thousands of victims and families is considered a crime against humanity. Subsequently this violation is one of the worst and the most widespread by Syrian regime. SCTJ urges the Security Council to investigate and refer these crimes to the I.C.C. in order to hold the perpetrators accountable. In addition, SCTJ calls the Human Rights Council to address this issue and work on investigating the enforced disappearance cases in Syria.
SCTJ published a report on enforced disappearance, which highlighted that there are more than 60,000 missing persons and about 53,525 forcibly-disappeared persons in Syria, 6722 of whom were killed including 1,348 children and 1,511 women.
The above figures reflect a challenge for us and for the entire world to end this ongoing crime, to take all the necessary measures to refer these crimes to the I.C.C., to hold the perpetrators accountable, and to put an end to the impunity culture.