The Hague – The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) has briefed the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances on the cases of the citizens, Yousef Abdullah al Hafez, born in 1971, who was a daily laborer at the time of his arrest, and of his nephew, Jalal Muhammad Sharif al Hafez, born in 1981, arrested along with him, who was working at a make-up shop at the time of his arrest. Yousef and Jalal, both from Marea city in the northern suburbs of Aleppo governorate, were arrested by Syrian regime forces personnel on Wednesday, August 8, 2012, while they were passing through one of the regime’s checkpoints in Aleppo city as they were heading from Marea city to Aleppo city, and were taken to an undisclosed location. Since that date, they have been forcibly disappeared. Their fate remains unknown to the SNHR, as well as to their family.
The SNHR has also briefed the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, as well as briefing the UN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, specifically in regard to Yousef and Jalal’s case.
The Syrian authorities have denied any connection with the enforced disappearance of the citizens, Yousef Abdullah al Hafez and Jalal Muhammad Sharif al Hafez. The SNHR has been unable to determine their fate, as have their family members, who fear that they may be arrested and tortured by regime personnel themselves if they continue to ask about their whereabouts and fate, as has happened in numerous previous cases.
The SNHR has called on the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearance, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, as well as the UN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, to intervene and to demand that the Syrian authorities release Yousef and Jalal immediately, as well as to secure the release of thousands of other forcibly disappeared citizens whose whereabouts and current conditions must also be revealed.
Although the Syrian government is not a party to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, it is indisputably a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Arab Charter on Human Rights. Enforced disappearance constitutes a violation of both instruments.
SNHR also confirms that there are well-founded fears that many of those forcibly disappeared by the Syrian regime since 2011 may have been subjected to torture and possibly killed in regime detention, with the number of citizens forcibly disappeared by the regime continuing to grow.