Syria: Guarantee the freedom and safety of human rights defenders, and justice and accountability for the missing, detained, and forcibly disappeared

In Arab Countries, International Advocacy Program by CIHRS

Human rights defenders Razan  Zaitouneh, Wael Hamada, Samira Al Khalil, and Nazim Hammadi now missing for 2191 days

Six years ago,  four human rights defenders –  Razan ZAITOUNEH, Wael HAMADA, Samira  AL KHALIL, and Nazim HAMMADI – were abducted by armed men who raided the Violations Documentation Center office in Douma in the eastern Ghouta region (north of Damascus), which was then under the control of a local armed faction. As the parties controlling the region have changed and tens of thousands of people have been displaced, the fate of our colleagues remains unknown.

For these four human rights defenders  and the thousands of forcibly disappeared and detained in Syria throughout the last eight years; today, we, the undersigned organizations, renew our commitment to uncovering their fate and fighting against impunity. We defend their rights in the name of justice and accountability, values which must underlie a future democratic state based on the separation of powers and the protection of human rights and citizenship; a state  genuinely governed by law.

As efforts continue to be made to  uncover the truth and deliver  justice and accountability to  their abductors and to all those who have perpetrated – and continue to perpetrate-  major crimes against humanity in Syria, enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention continue to be the primary practices of the de facto  authorities throughout Syria. As the trajectory towards a political solution accelerates,  the parties to the conflict  continue to  marginalize, detain, and forcibly disappear human rights defenders.

We remind the parties and guarantors of political negotiations in Syria that disclosing the fate of the missing, releasing the wrongfully detained, ensuring justice, and holding perpetrators of major crimes against humanity accountable constitute the best guarantees for ending the culture of impunity and laying the groundwork for any future stability and peace in Syria and the region.

To this end, we, the undersigned organizations, underscore the following:

  • Continue to pursue the defense of all Syrian citizens’ fundamental rights, seek truth and establish justice, and work to hold those responsible for major crimes accountable.
  • Continue to pursue the establishment of a transparent, fair, and national accountability mechanism with international guarantees for the purpose of investigating crimes and ensuring accountability, reparation, and non-repetition, as only this guarantee will enable sustainable peace to be built in Syria.
  • We reaffirm our call on the states and guarantors involved in reaching a political solution in Syria to uphold their obligation towards producing a solution that establishes sustainable peace. A solution affirming sustainable peace can be reached, first and foremost, by giving priority to ensuring trust between the parties to the conflict. Trust must be established by disclosing the fate of the disappeared and detained in Syria, and by pressuring all parties to the conflict to commit and cooperate.
  • We call upon the international community and the United Nations to fulfill their responsibilities in regards to defending human rights and striving to uncover the fate of the missing and detained in Syria. The freedom and safety of human rights defenders must be ensured in order to initiate a political process capable of establishing a democratic state in Syria.


  • Access Center for Human Rights
  • ActiveWatch
  • Al Haq Organisation for Defending Human Rights
  • Al Mezan
  • Al-Marsad – Arab Human Rights Centre in Golan Heights
  • Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights
  • Arab Network for Human Rights Information
  • Aso Association against Violence Against Women
  • Association de Soutien aux Medias Libres
  • Association Marocaine des Droits Humains
  • Baytna Syria
  • Bercav organization
  • Caesar Families Association
  • Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  • Collective of Families of the Disappeared in Algeria
  • Fédération Euro-Méditerranéenne contre les disparitions forcées
  • Gulf Centre for Human Rights
  • Human Rights Club
  • Human Rights Concern – Eritrea
  • Hurras Network
  • Impunity Watch
  • International Federation for Human Rights
  • International Media Support
  • Justice for life
  • Kawakbi Center for Transitional Justice and Human Rights
  • Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law
  • Kesh Malek Organization
  • Kurdish Committee for Human Rights /Observer
  • Latvian Human Rights Committee
  • Lebanese Center for Human Rights
  • Legal Clinic “Adilet
  • Local Administration Councils Unit
  • Local Development and Small-Projects Support
  • MENA Rights Group
  • Musawa
  • Nophotozone
  • Organisation Marocaine Des Droits Humains
  • Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
  • PAX for Peace
  • Pro-justice
  • Rights Realization Centre
  • Shaml Syrian CSOs Coalition
  • Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights
  • Syria Legal Network/ NL
  • Syrian Center for Media and Freedom Of Expresson
  • Syrian journalists Association
  • Syrian Lawyers Aggregation
  • ٍSyrian League for Citizenship
  • Syrian Women’s network
  • Syrians for Truth and Justice
  • The Syria Campaign
  • Verband Deutsch-Syrischer Hilfsvereine e.V.
  • Violation Documentation Center
  • Women Now For Development
  • World Organisation Against Torture – Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

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