UN body demands answers from Syria regime about death notices

UN body demands answers from Syria regime about death notices
2 min read
29 November, 2018
A UN committee is pushing for the UN to get answers from the Syrian regime on returnees who disappeared after returning home.
Thousands of Syrians have disappeared in the regime's prisons [Getty]
The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria has urged the Security Council to press Bashar al-Assad's regime to answer questions on the fate of Syrians who went missing when they returned to the country.

Following an informal behind closed door meeting with council members, the commission chairman said as he seeks a response from the Syrian regime about the number of returnees who have disappeared or were imprisoned.

It also wants answers for the death notifications that have been released from the regime to the families of detainees over the past few months.

"The issues of the detainees and the disappeared should not be dealt after peace, but now is the time to consider this," said Paulo Pinheiro, who heads the commission set up to investigate human rights violations in the war.

On Wednesday, it was reported that an female American-Syrian aid worker had been confirmed tortured to death in one of the regime's notorious prisons.

Tens of thousands of detainees are thought to have been murdered in Assad's jails.

Military police and the army in May provided for the first time information to government civil registry offices on the deceased, with families learning the fates of their loved one who were detained during the war. 

"The state is beginning to put out that information, but little else," said commission member Hanny Megally.

"The families have a right to know what happened, where the bodies are, to get information about them."

The UN body said that it must be given access to all jails and prisons to confirm who is still alive in detention, he added.

The commission hopes council members including Russia, Bashar al-Assad's ally, can encourage the Damascus government to take steps to address demands from the families of lost or missing loved ones.

Syria's war has killed at least 360,000 people and displaced millions.

UN-led diplomatic efforts to end the war have stalled, but Russia, Iran and Turkey are spearheading a separate peace drive without the international community.

A Lebanese minister also confirmed this week that Syrians had been killed or disappeared when they returned home.