Syria: General Intelligence Defector Disappears in Sednaya Prison

Jisr Al Shughur after the protests and mutiny, AP,

Jamil Al Nimr, former head of the General Intelligence in Jisr Al Shughur, Idlib governorate, was detained in Sednaya Military Prison since his arrest in June 2011 for having disobeyed orders to fire live bullets on peaceful protesters. He suddenly disappeared in December 2012, after his wife’s last visit. The prison authorities then refused to give her any information on his fate and whereabouts. Concerned over his fate, Alkarama and Human Rights Guardians submitted his case to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced Disappearances (WGEID) to request the Syrian authorities to locate him and inform his family.

Witnesses refer that on 3 June 2011, peaceful protesters gathered in Jisr Al Shughour to demonstrate against the Syrian government. Due to the violent repression, one demonstrator was killed; the following days, the demonstrators increased in magnitude and the Syrian army was deployed to put the protest down. According to Al Nimr’s relatives and several locals, orders were given to open fire against unarmed protestors but several soldiers of the Syrian Army as well as members of the General Intelligence refused to obey. Al Nimr was among them, and escaped to his brother’s house in in Ghanya, Jisr Al Shighur district, Idlib.

A week later, members of the Syrian Army and the Syrian Military Intelligence Directorate – also known as “Military Security” – in black uniforms, raided Ghanya and found Al Nimr. Accused of “treason”, he was beaten up and taken away. Al Nimr’s wife was later informed that her husband was detained in Sednaya Military Prison, where she visited him in December 2012. However, once she came back, she was told her husband was not detained there anymore, and was denied any information on his fate and whereabouts.

“It is extremely disturbing that Al Nimr was arrested and disappeared for having disobeyed manifestly illegal orders. Considering the accounts of severe torture and mass secret executions inside Sednaya Military Prison, his family is extremely concerned over his fate,” says Inès Osman, Alkarama's Legal Officer for the Mashreq. “Enforced disappearance in Syria are constantly on the rise, and they are systematically used against activists and defectors such as in this case. Enforced disappearances carried out on such a scale amount to crimes against humanity as well as war crimes, and must be immediately stopped.”

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