Human Rights Watch welcomed the initiative of the Syrian Democratic Council SDC to form a specialized committee to find detainees and kidnapped in north and east Syria, and considered it a “positive step,” and the letter also included steps to ensure the effectiveness of the team’s work.
Local authorities and the US-led coalition should give full support
Human Rights Watch said in a statement, Tuesday, that the establishment of a new work team to help find thousands of detainees and missing persons in northeastern Syria is an important step towards accountability for what happened to them, the authorities in northeastern Syria and the US-led military alliance should provide full support to the team, and to facilitate his access to information to know the fate of the kidnapped by the “Islamic State” (also known as “ISIS”).
On April 5, SDC has announced to establish civil work team, consisting from lawyers, activist, and relatives of detainees, Human Rights Watch thanked SDC by sending message on April 20, considered this as positive step.
Paige: Families are waiting to know the fate of their loved ones
“This announcement will support families who have long waited to know the fate of their missing loved ones,” said Michael Paige, deputy director of the Middle East division at Human Rights Watch. “Local authorities and the US-led coalition should do everything in their power to ensure that the work team receives the support to ensure the success of its work.”
The declaration said that the work team is charged with “gathering and identifying the data on the file of detention, and making the necessary plans to meet the aspirations and hopes of the Syrians in the truth, justice and accountability.”
The team has great powers in collaboration and cooperation with all global, regional and locals’ bodies, SDC pledged to provide full support in all levels to ensure identity the detainees, kidnaped and prisoners and release who was captured of them.
Among the eight members of the task force are: the prominent lawyer in northeastern Syria, Majdoulin Hassan, and Fadwa Mahmoud, founder of Families for Freedom, a Syrian group concerned with knowing the fate of missing and detained Syrians and releasing those who were alive.
Human Rights Watch recommendations
The organization urged SDC, SDF, their attention will be focused on the kidnapped in its areas, in particular those who had been kidnapped by ISIS.
In February Human Rights Watch published a report documenting the cases of the kidnapped by ISIS. While the total number of missing persons was not known.
According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, more than 8,143 abducted by ISIS have been unknown, after many of them were transferred to areas now under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces SDF.
Human Rights Watch said that setting up a task force is an essential first step to knowing the fate of those who have been lost, detained, or kidnapped, but its effectiveness is linked to giving it the authority to request information from regional and local authorities, including the Syrian Democratic Council, the Syrian Democratic Forces, Asayîş forces in the area, councils, civil, and intelligence services.
The organization stressed that the authorities should provide the task force, as well as international organizations in charge of monitoring detention, access to all official and unofficial prisons under their control, and, as Human Rights Watch has documented, some of the kidnapped or detained by ISIS may be present in detention of SDF, or that is run by the SDC in northeast Syria under the suspicion of belonging to ISIS.
The authorities controlling prisons should ensure that all detainees there are held on a clear legal basis, and that they appear before a judicial authority to determine the necessity and legitimacy of their detention, that the authorities should assess whether any detainee is a potential element of ISIS, or is kidnapped or held by ISIS, especially in the case of detained children.
The United States and the coalition led by it, as allies of the Syrian Democratic Forces, should support the initiative, including enabling the team to enter detention centers it controls and providing information that the team may require to make its mission successful.
The success of the team depends on its ability to communicate
Human Rights Watch said that the success of the task force will depend on its ability to communicate inside and outside northeastern Syria, the team includes members from inside and outside that region and is tasked with covering the part under the control of the Syrian Democratic Council SDC in the whole northeast region, the new team should immediately assign an official spokesperson and regularly announcing the latest developments related to his work and progress.
According to the organization, since ISIS lost control of the ground in the region, the multiple efforts to find out the fate of the kidnapped of ISIS elements have not succeeded, due to the absence of political management and support from the local authorities, as well as the lack of coordination of efforts, the team should communicate with the efforts of other teams and build on what it did to find out The fate of the ISIS kidnapped, among those groups is the “Initial Response Team” in al-Raqqa, which led efforts to exhume bodies remain from the mass graves found in the area since 2017, and “Jawab”, an alliance of families of the kidnapped by ISIS.
Paige said: “ISIS kidnapped thousands of people, including human rights activists, doctors, and local notables to consolidate its rule based on intimidation in Syria. The Syrian Democratic Council should follow this first positive step by continuing commitment to this long-ignored issue.”