Tackling the Impunity Gap in Syria: Detainees and Disappearances

Publication: Analysis

Tens of thousands of individuals have been arbitrarily or unlawfully detained in Syria, and in many cases forcibly disappeared, since civil war broke out in 2011.

In recent months, while some of their families have come to know of their deaths, many questions remain unanswered. This article warns of the “impunity gap” that is likely to arise from this situation, and gives practical recommendations for obtaining justice for victims and survivors.

The bloody war in Syria, in which all parties to the conflict have shown a total disregard for civilian lives, took an ugly turn in June 2018 when families began finding out that their detained loved ones—some not seen since the early days of the uprising in Syria and presumed forcibly disappeared by the state—were dead. The silence of the Syrian state on the issue of the detainees has finally been broken but the inhumane manner in which families are being informed beggars belief. Many questions remain unanswered, including how many and how have they died, where the remains are, and for those who remain alive, their whereabouts.

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