The ICJ reiterated today its urgent call on UN Member States to establish a mechanism for missing and disappeared people in Syria on the occasion of the interactive dialogue with the Commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic.
The statement could not be delivered due to the limited time afforded to civil society.
It reads as follows:
The ICJ takes note with profound concern of the latest report of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Syria and calls for the renewal of its mandate. As the UN Special Envoy for Syria has recently highlighted, 12 years into Syria’s devastating civil war, “the Syrian people remain trapped in a profound humanitarian, political, military, security, economic and human rights crisis of great complexity and almost unimaginable scale”. The February 2023 earthquake, which killed thousands and caused untold devastation in Northwest Syria, has further compounded the humanitarian crisis that has been ravaging the country.
As the COI observed, “one of the Syrian war’s greatest tragedies is the unknown fate of the tens of thousands missing or forcibly disappeared”. The Syrian authorities have deliberately concealed the fate and whereabouts of those they have forcibly disappeared, a practice that continues to inflict cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment on their relatives.
Concurring with both the COI’s and the UNSG’s recommendations, the ICJ urges this Council and its Member States to establish as soon as possible an independent mechanism with an international mandate to coordinate and consolidate claims regarding missing persons, including persons subjected to enforced disappearances. This long-awaited mechanism is necessary to assist the victims’ families in their quest to establish the fate and whereabouts of tens of thousands of their missing and forcibly disappeared relatives, and in their pursuit of truth, justice and accountability.
The ICJ also reiterates its call on this Council and its Member States to act individually and collectively to fill the accountability gap in Syria, including by exercising universal or extra-territorial jurisdiction over crimes under international law, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture, enforced disappearance, and extrajudicial killings committed in the country.
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