Syria: Enforced Disappearance of a Woman to Force her Son to Surrender

On 28 October 2014, Alkarama sent a communication to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) to raise the case of Qamar Awad, disappeared since her arrest by a patrol of the Syrian Air Intelligence Forces on 2 October 2012.

Qamar Awad, a 55 year-old housewife, was arrested with no warrant by a patrol of the Al Mazza Air Force Intelligence branch as she was at her sister's house, in the suburbs of Qudsaya, a Syrian city located on the western slope of Mount Qasioun, 7km west of Damascus. Just after her arrest, Awad's relatives filed a complaint withthe Public Prosecutor office in Damascus with the hope to receive information on her whereabouts. Contacted again in June 2014, the authorities have kept on refusing to reveal her whereabouts.

Some detainees who were recently released reported that thy saw her for the last time on 2 November 2012, before she was transferred to Air Force intelligence centre of detention. Alkarama fears that she might be subjected to torture while detained, as the Air Force Intelligence Branch is notorious for the practice of torture.

Sources close to the family believe that her detention is the result of her sons' desertion from the Syrian army, who are now both wanted by the governmental security forces.

The fact that Awad is detained in order to compel her son to surrender to the authorities has also to be considered as hostage taking, a violation of fundamental guarantees for civilians under customary international law, as well as under the Geneva Conventions (Art 3 and Art 147/ IV Convention),and amounts to war crime, as recognised by the Statute of the International Criminal Court.

In light of this information, Alkarama sent a communication to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) to call upon the Syrian authorities to reveal Awad's whereabouts and to allow her family to visit her without restriction. In the absence of credible charges against her, the authorities should release her immediately, since she is at high risk of torture during her detention. The systematic practice of enforced disappearance has to be stopped and the Syrian authorities need to ensure all appropriate measures to abolish it.

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