The Syrian government has waged “a campaign of terror” against civilians through a policy of forced disappearances that amounts to a crime against humanity, United Nations investigators said Thursday in Geneva.
After a series of reports documenting war crimes and widespread human rights abuses in Syria during 33 months of violence, the four-member Commission of Inquiry focused on what it said was a government policy of abducting or detaining civilians and then deliberately concealing their fate, inflicting what “will remain among Syria’s deepest wounds.”
“Most disappearances were perpetrated by security and intelligence officers, as well as by the Syrian army, sometimes in conjunction with pro-government militias acting on behalf of the government,” the panel reported.
Their report adds to a substantial body of evidence of human rights abuses collected by the panel since it started work in September 2011. Navi Pillay, the U.N. commissioner for human rights, said this month that the evidence implicates officials at the highest levels of government, including President Bashar Assad.
For the crime of enforced disappearance, “no statute of limitations applies,” the panel’s report said.
Refused access to Syria, the panel has based its reports on interviews with refugees and defectors from the government and people they are able to reach inside the country.
New York Times