The Case for an International Mechanism to Address the Detainees and Disappeared Crisis in Syria

Professor Dr Jeremy Sarkin

May 2021


We are five associations of Syrian victims, survivors and their family members who have suffered
immeasurably from the crimes of arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture and many
other detention-related abuses. Like the families of the countless Syrians who have been disappeared
by all parties to the conflict since 2011 and before, we still suffer the daily pain of not knowing the
fate of our loved ones, as well as other forms of hardship resulting from their absence.

As victims and survivors, we have rights. We have therefore developed the Truth and Justice Charter,
where we lay out our vision and demands for truth, justice and the role we must play in rebuilding our
country. We have clear and achievable demands, accompanied by measures to make our vision a reality.

We must know the truth about the fate of our loved ones. Those still alive must be released immediately.
We want to receive the remains of those who have lost their lives, to give them a dignified burial
and enable us to grieve in peace. And we want guarantees that this will not happen again to
prevent others suffering what we have suffered. We have been working tirelessly for these simple aims.

But despite years of activism, documentation and international outcry, there is still no effective
body or institution that can help us discover the fate of our missing daughters, sons, spouses, parents
and siblings. We therefore requested Professor Dr Jeremy Sarkin to study the available options for
a new mechanism dedicated to this purpose. Through this study, we seek to lay out ways forward in
order to turn the support we have received from international actors into concrete action. We now
call for international cooperation to establish a mechanism to search for the missing and disappeared
in Syria, drawing on the ideas outlined in this study. After ten years of conflict, detention and
disappearance, it is time to act.