On Wednesday, the Syrian Jurists Association issued a legal note about how the Bashar al-Assad regime has exploited provisions designed for missing people in Syrian law to close the files of prisoners and those forcibly displaced and claiming that those who were killed are missing, and thereby trick their relatives.
The Association sent its note to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the President of the International Security Council and the head of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria.
The Association said in the note, posted on its official Facebook page, that the Assad regime had recently resorted to implementing legal provisions for missing and forcibly disappeared people, with the aim of covering up its crimes against Syrian prisoners, and to rid itself of requests from the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, especially regarding its latest report where it called for the regime to hand over the corpses of people who died in its prisons and to open investigations on a case-by-case basis.
In implementing this, the regime relies on personal status law articles 202 to 205, which include provisions for missions during times of peace and war. They stipulate that if a person is missing for four years, they are declared dead. This eliminates the requests from the commission and other agencies to hand over the bodies of prisoners and inform their families of what they’d been subjected to.
The association said that the regime was exploiting the missing persons provisions, to confiscate their property, which had previously been achieved by utilizing Law No. 10.
It also noted that the regime would exploit the law to trick supporters as well, saying that their children who were killed defending it were “missing or held prisoner by rebel groups.”
Recently, the pro-regime Al-Watan newspaper reported there was an “increase in requests for death certificates for missing people from their families, since four years had passed since they went missing.” The Damascus courts received more than 70 requests a day to obtain judicial agency for missing people to manage their affairs in terms of documents, salaries, property, and other matters which concern them.
The number of inmates held in Assad regime prisons, since the start of the revolution in 2011, is estimated to be in the tens of thousands throughout Syria. Testimonies of prisoners who survived and from rights organizations indicate that prisoners are subjected to all forms of torture, which have resulted in the deaths of thousands.
Families drown in spirals of anxiety and doubt, and they spend their time going between security branches and spending their savings to find out where their loved ones are being held, or if they are even still alive.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.