Rapport de la commission d’enquête internationale indépendante sur la République arabe syrienne








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titreRapport de la commission d’enquête internationale indépendante sur la République arabe syrienne
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date de publication02.12.2016
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The anguish

  1. The heart of the anguish suffered by families lies in the authorities’ systematic refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or to disclose any information about the relatives. Across Syria, parents, siblings, husbands, wives, children and friends wait anxiously to know the fate or whereabouts of their loved ones. Not knowing whether the disappeared is still alive, and if so in what state of health and under which conditions, causes a level of grief impossible to convey. The secrecy surrounding the fate of the disappeared has the effect of intimidating and punishing families by leaving them in a state of uncertainty and mental distress. This mental anguish may rise to the level of torture or inhuman treatment and makes entire families the victims of enforced disappearances.

  2. The husband of a woman abducted by Military Intelligence officers in Hama in December 2011 and whose whereabouts were never disclosed, explained how traumatized his two-year old daughter has been since, “She cries when she sees a military uniform”.

  3. Consistent accounts have revealed that the principal means to obtain information is when a fellow detainee is released. A man held for over a year in the Military Police Branch of Hama described, in a harrowing account, how immediately after his release in May 2013, he was assailed by dozens of women thrusting photographs of their husbands, sons and fathers towards him. Another interviewee, released after a court hearing in Damascus in August 2013, was confronted with hundreds of people waiting outside the court, begging for news of their loved ones, in the hope that he had seen them in detention.

  4. The desperation of families has left them vulnerable to extortion. Some pay bribes to those who, often falsely, claim they can provide information. One interviewee reported that his cousin, who had participated in peaceful demonstrations in Latakia, was arrested mid-2011 by Government security forces and taken to an unknown location. His family was too frightened to approach the forces responsible for his arrest. Instead they paid a bribe to a person who claimed to be connected to the security forces. This middleman informed the family that the disappeared was detained in the Air Force Intelligence detention centre. Shortly afterwards, the contact revealed, for more money, that he had been killed.

  5. Another interviewee reported that his cousin was arrested by security officers on his way to Damascus in September 2013 and taken to an unknown location. His family learned of his arrest from a taxi driver who witnessed it. The disappeared’s father repeatedly inquired about the fate and whereabouts of his son, to no avail. Only after he bribed one of his contacts was he able to learn that security officers belonging to the 4th Army division had arrested his son for having published pro-opposition messages on a social media webpage. He was, however, unable to obtain any information about his son’s location or state of health. The interviewee insisted that less privileged families are abandoned to their grief, saying that it was only because his uncle “had money and contacts” that he was able to obtain some information.

  6. Besides the grave emotional and psychosocial impact, families also often have to cope with the economic consequences of disappearances. The absence of the main breadwinner creates financial difficulties that add to the extreme vulnerability of families. Women and children face specific hardships. The uncertainty created by the disappearance of their husbands or fathers has social and legal consequences, including on the status of marriage, right to inheritance and social welfare, and the management of the property of the disappeared person. Children of disappeared experience acute suffering with the loss of a parent. One young woman interviewed about the disappearance of her husband stated “I do not know how to live and care for my young children without their father”.

  7. Syrian authorities created a climate of intimidation such that families did not dare inquire about their loved ones or file any formal complaints, and systematically denied the disappearance or refused to disclose any information. They also violated their duty to duly investigate enforced disappearances. The Government has further violated families’ non-derogable right to know the truth regarding the circumstances of the enforced disappearance, the progress and results of the investigation and the fate of the disappeared person.

  1. Conclusions and Recommendations

  1. The accounts presented in this paper only hint at the scope of the crisis of enforced disappearance in Syria and the state of fear in which ordinary citizens live.

  2. Enforced disappearances are perpetrated as part of a widespread campaign of terror against the civilian population. Government forces have engaged in enforced disappearance in violation of their international legal obligations. Given the geographic spread of the documented cases and the consistent manner in which abductions and arrests are carried out, there are reasonable grounds to believe that enforced disappearances were committed by Government forces, as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population, and therefore amount to a crime against humanity.

  3. The direct victims of enforced disappearances were systematically denied their fundamental human rights, more particularly their rights not to be arbitrarily detained, not to be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as well as their rights to liberty and security, to be recognized as a person before the law and to be treated with humanity and with the inherent dignity of the human person.

  4. By failing to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty, the Government has violated the family’s right to the truth. The ensuing mental anguish suffered may breach family members’ rights not to be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Where family members have been arrested when they sought to make inquiries from the authorities, their rights to liberty and security have also been violated.

  5. The absence of an autonomous definition of enforced disappearance in the Syrian Criminal Code and the lack of an official register or bureau that manages records of detainees and responds to inquiries made by relatives, contributes to a system that is conducive to enforced disappearances. Moreover, the persistent failure to notify the families of the fate or whereabouts of their loved ones coupled with the systematic practice of withholding information, reprisals, bribery or intimidation in response to the search for information by relatives, and the absence of genuine investigations into allegations of disappearances, constitute the many factors that create an environment of impunity in Syria. Such a climate not only contributes to the perpetuation of the phenomenon of enforced disappearance, but is also a major obstacle to the elucidation of its true extent.

  6. International human rights law imposes on Syria the obligation to take all appropriate measures to investigate enforced disappearances and to bring those responsible to justice.

  7. Disappearances are losses that cannot be mourned. They bear consequences on the individuals, their families and the community as a whole and will remain among Syria’s deepest wounds. The damage inflicted upon the victims, including their relatives, is permanent and irreparable. Reconciliation cannot happen until each individual case of enforced disappearance is clarified and the perpetrators brought to justice. No statute of limitations applies to this violation. Investigating each case of enforced disappearance will remain the responsibility of the Syrian state regardless of the Government in power.

The Commission recommends that the Government of Syria:

  1. Inform families of the whereabouts of all persons in their custody;

  2. Ensure that all those detained are registered, and afforded legal review of the grounds of their detention;

  3. When a disappeared person is found dead, return the remains to the family and inform them of the circumstances of the death;

  4. Ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and recognise the competence of the Committee under Articles 31 and 32 of the Convention;

  5. Ensure that all cases of enforced disappearance as well as acts tantamount to enforced disappearances are duly investigated, that those responsible are prosecuted, and, where appropriate, punished;

  6. Ensure that military commanders and civilian superiors enforce the prohibition of enforced disappearances within their ranks and among their subordinates;

  7. Ensure that those involved in the search for victims of enforced disappearance, notably the relatives, have full and unimpeded access to justice and are protected against ill-treatment, intimidation or reprisal. To that effect, effective victim and witness protection measures, offering guarantees of safety for those who wish to lodge a complaint or testify, should be established;

  8. Survivors and families of disappeared should also be granted reparations that include rehabilitation, satisfaction, compensation and, in particular, psychological and social support for the relatives;

  9. To the extent possible, special social and financial support should be provided to dependent women and children.

The Commission recommends that anti-Government armed groups:

  1. Ensure that military commanders enforce the prohibition of enforced disappearances;

  2. Take all feasible measures to account for persons reported disappeared as a result of the armed conflict;

  3. Provide the family members of disappeared with any information concerning their fate and whereabouts;

  4. Register and hold all detainees in a recognized place of detention;

  5. Promptly inform the detainees of the reasons for their detention;

  6. Ensure that any person deprived of liberty has contact with the exterior, including legal assistance.

The Commission recommends that all parties to the conflict:

  1. Maintain an updated register of all persons deprived of liberty;

  2. Set up a process to centralize information on persons deprived of liberty, to transmit such information to their next of kin directly or through a neutral intermediary, and to respond to inquiries about the whereabouts of disappeared persons;

  3. Ensure that any person deprived of liberty is held in a recognized place of detention and has the opportunity to challenge his or her detention before an independent and impartial body.

Annexe V

[Anglais seulement]

Government detention centres

  1. The majority of detainees interviewed by the Commission stated that they had been tortured or ill-treated during their interrogation. Methods of torture documented by the Commission were consistent across the country. They included mock executions; electric shocks applied to sensitive parts of the body, including genitals; cigarettes burns; and beating with electric cables, whips, metal and wooden sticks and rifle butts. There were multiple reports of detainees being beaten about the head and on the soles of the feet. The Commission also received reports of detainees being placed into prolonged stress positions (shabeh) and the use of vehicle tires to hold hands and feet in uncomfortable positions (dulab) while beatings were administered. In many of the interviews, scars and wounds, consistent with their accounts, were still visible.b Detainees were denied medical care, left to die of chronic illnesses and untreated wounds and injuries. Children were often detained in the same detention facilities as adults and subject to the same levels of torture. As prisons have become overcrowded, the detention conditions have become deplorable. Sanitary facilities are limited and inadequate, spreading illnesses among detainees. Detainees are not accorded adequate food, leading to reports of starvation and malnourishment.

  2. The list presented below identifies the Government detention facilities in which cases of torture have been documented. Others cases of tortures have also been documented in other locations controlled by Government forces, such as ad hoc detention places or checkpoints, which were not included in this list.




Governorate

City

Ministry

Service

Location

Aleppo

Aleppo

Ministry for Internal Affairs

Political Security Directorate

Political Security, Aleppo Branch

Ministry of Defence

Military Intelligence Directorate

Military Security, “Palestine” Branch 235

Air Force Intelligence

Air Force Intelligence, Aleppo Branch

Damascus

Damascus

Ministry of Defence

Air Force Intelligence

Air Force Intelligence, Damascus Branch - Bab Tuma

Military Intelligence Directorate

Military Security, Raids Branch 215

Military Intelligence Directorate

Military Security, Branch 227

Military Intelligence Directorate

Military Security, Damascus Branch – Al-Fehar

Ministry for Internal Affairs

General Security Directorate

State Security, Investigation Branch 285

Syrian Police

Criminal division, Damascus Branch

Qaboun

Ministry of Defence

Syrian Army

Military Police Headquarters

Sednaya


Ministry of Defence

Syrian Army

Military Prison

Mezzeh

Ministry of Defence

Air Force Intelligence

Mezzeh Airport Air Force Intelligence Investigation Center

Syrian Army

Republican Guard Headquarters

Syrian Army

Military Hospital

Kafr Sousa

Ministry of Defence

Military Intelligence Directorate

Military Security, Branch 227

Ministry for Internal Affairs

General Security Directorate

State Security, Kafar Sousa Branch

Dara’a

Dara’a

Ministry of Defence

Military Intelligence Directorate

Military Security, Dara’a Branch 265

Ministry of Defence

Air Force Intelligence

Air Force Intelligence, Dara’a Branch

Dara’a

Ministry for Internal Affairs

Political Security Directorate

Political Security, Dara’a Branch

General Security Directorate

State Security, Dara’a Branch

Syrian Police

Criminal division, Dara’a Branch

Izra’a

Ministry of Defence

Military Intelligence Directorate

Military Security, Izra’a Branch

Syrian Army

38th Brigade

Gharaz

Ministry for Internal Affairs

Prison division

Gharaz Central prison

Hama

Hama

Ministry for Internal Affairs

General Security Directorate

State Security, Hama Branch

Homs

Homs

Ministry for Internal Affairs

Prison division

Homs Central Prison

Ministry of Defence

Air Force Intelligence

Air Force Intelligence, Homs Branch – Bab Tuma

Military Intelligence Directorate

Military Security, Homs Branch

Syrian Army

Homs Military Prison

Idlib

Idlib

Ministry for Internal Affairs

Prison division

Idlib Central Prison

Ministry of Defence

Military Intelligence Directorate

Military Security, Idlib Branch

Jisr Al-Shughour

Ministry of Defence

Military Intelligence Directorate

Military Security, Jisr Al-Shughour Branch

Ministry for Internal Affairs

Political Security Directorate

Political Security, Jisr Al-Shughour Branch

Latakia

Latakia

Ministry of Defence

Military Intelligence Directorate

Military Security, Latakia Branch

Ministry for Internal Affairs

Political Security Directorate

Political Security, Latakia Branch

Reef Damascus

Adra

Ministry for Internal Affairs

Prison division

Adra Central prison

Duma

Ministry for Internal Affairs

General Security Directorate

State Security, Duma Branch

Harasta

Ministry of Defence

Air Force Intelligence

Air Force Intelligence, Harasta Branch

Ministry for Internal Affairs

Prison division

Harasta Central Prison

Tartus

Banyas

Ministry of Defence

Military Intelligence Directorate

Military Security, Banyas Branch

Ministry for Internal Affairs

Political Security Directorate

Political Security, Banyas Branch

Tartus

Ministry of Defence

Military Intelligence Directorate

Military Security, Tartus Branch

Ministry for Internal Affairs

Political Security Directorate

Political Security, Tartus Branch

General Security Directorate

State Security, Tartus Branch
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