A Common Vision on the Question of Enforced Disappearance and Arbitrary Detention in Syria by Syrian Victims’ and Family Members’ Organizations

Since 2011, the Syrian regime has expanded its ruthless methods to control dissenting voices and to counter political activism. These methods, ranging from enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention, to widespread use of torture and inhumane treatment in all their forms, have been widely employed without any perpetrators being held to account.

The Syrian regime has continued to operate with absolute impunity, deliberately denying and disregarding the rights of victims and their families. In addition, the majority of Syria’s armed factions, radical organizations, and de facto authorities, particularly the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (“Daesh”), have emulated these practices thus committing   widespread arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture, and killing during their control of Syrian territory.

The road to peace, recovery, and reconstruction in Syria and for the Syrian people starts with establishing the truth and ensuring justice and accountability for these grave violations. No negotiations or peace process can succeed while the families of detainees and the missing are denied knowledge of the fate of their loved ones, in the absence of real confidence-building measures as stipulated in UNR 2254, and without addressing the issue of detention and enforced disappearances as matters of top priority.

Against this backdrop, the Truth and Justice Charter (henceforth: the Charter) is put forth by a group of five associations formed by victims and survivors (and/or their family members) of enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention, and all violations that accompanied or resulted from enforced disappearance and detention including extrajudicial execution, torture, and sexual abuses.

The Charter represents the independent voices and initiative of Syrian victims and family members and lays out a common vision and framework on the question of enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention in Syria. In brief, our victims’ voices and narrative are at the centre-stage in our vision, and we believe that no solution or approach can be legitimate without taking into account and integrating the principles of this Charter.

The five associations represent the victims and survivors of these cruel violations in Syria, and the Charter is presented as a ‘living document’ open to the feedback and participation of other affected groups who agree with the key principles and foundations upon which the Charter is built. We stress the importance of developing a common vision and set of demands for joint initiatives between groups of victim organizations in the future to reach our goals on the local, regional and international levels through effective advocacy and campaigning.

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