Enforced disappearances rising in Syria: UN

Geneva, Dec 19 : Enforced disappearances are widespread in Syria, according to a report released Thursday by the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria.

The report, entitled 'Without a Trace: Enforced Disappearances in Syria', put the spotlight on the phenomenon of enforced disappearances in Syria from March 2011 to November 2013 and was based on first hand interviews conducted by the UN investigating panel over this period, Xinhua reported.

The commission said that Syrian government forces have engaged in enforced disappearances in violation of their international legal obligations, and given the investigation, there were reasonable grounds to believe that acts of enforced disappearances were committed by Syrian government forces as part of widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population and amounted to a crime against humanity.

Meanwhile, in 2013, specific anti-government armed groups have increasingly been taking hostages for prisoner exchange or ransom, targeting civilians perceived to be supporting the government, human rights defenders, journalists, activists, humanitarian workers and religious leaders.

In recent months, they have adopted practices that could be considered tantamount to enforced disappearances.

The commission of inquiry was established in September 2011 by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate all alleged human rights violations since March 2011 in Syria.

The council decided to extend the commission's mandate for the first time in September 2012 at its 21st session.

It decided in March 2013 to extend the mandate of the commission for one more year.

--IANS (Posted on 19-12-2013)

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