The Hague, 4 May 2022: – The Syrian Policy Coordination Group (PCG) presented recommendations on the issue of missing, disappeared and detained persons, at an online Brussels VI event facilitated by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) with the participation of the Delegation of the European Union to Syria.
During the event, the PCG presented steps designed to develop a strategic policy framework to support the process of establishing effective domestic, regional and international mechanisms to account for Syria’s missing and disappeared persons and to uphold the rights of their families.
Today’s event follows the eight session of the PCG and a roundtable in late March with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), at which participants discussed the proposed new international mechanism for Syria’s Missing and Disappeared.
“Over 130,000 persons are missing from the conflict and people continue to be disappeared on a regular basis in the most horrific way. Through the PCG, Syrian civil society, families of the missing and experts from the international community are working together to create a strategy for locating them and investigating their disappearance, so that perpetrators can be held to account and families of the missing can secure their rights to justice, peace and reparations,” said Sema Nassar, PCG member and women rights activist. “Women must also take the lead in implementing this strategy, however they encounter numerous obstacles in doing this,” she added.
While more than 130,000 people are believed to be missing as a result of the conflict, Syria also has a legacy of missing and disappeared persons cases linked to human rights abuses and other causes prior to the conflict, and thousands of Syrians who have fled the fighting have gone missing along migratory routes.
“Finding missing persons is a state responsibility,” said Nael Georges, ICMP’s PCG facilitator and researcher. “The issue of the missing must be included in any upcoming peace agreement; the constitutional provisions suggested by the Policy Coordination Group are the building block of any upcoming settlement.”
ICMP already maintains a centralized, secure data repository that, to date, has collected data from almost 60,000 family members who have reported almost 23,000 relatives who have gone missing in the Syrian context. The repository is growing steadily as more and more families provide information.
The PCG comprises 27 members, including Syrian family associations, civil society organizations, legal and human rights defenders, and international advisors. The PCG has released several documents related to Syria’s missing, including an Ethical Charter on Data Collection and Documentation, a UPR submission to the UN Human Rights Council, Constitutional Provisions and a paper on missing persons legislation for Syria.
ICMP is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization that seeks to ensure the cooperation of governments and others in locating missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, migration, and other causes, and to assist them in doing so. ICMP also supports the work of other organizations in their efforts, encourages public involvement in its activities and contributes to the development of appropriate expressions of commemoration and tribute to the missing.