On 23/11/2020 , “Urnammu” and “Release Me” jointly made a submission to the United Nations Special Procedures on practices of corruption by the Government of Syria in relation to detained individuals in Syria. The submission followed an earlier submission by the two organizations concerning the arbitrary detention, torture and enforced disappearances of three individuals.
In this submissiob, Urnammu and Release Me documented how families and relatives of individuals detained or subject to forced disappearances are forced to pay to “middlemen” and/or “brokers” varying amounts of money in exchange for the release of their relatives, or just information with regards to their whereabouts or fate.
Furthermore, the submission highlighted how following the events of 2011 and the ensuing of an armed conflict, the Government of Syria ramped up its use of arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances and torture against political opponents. The Government of Syria established the Counter-Terrorism Court, a body with a general wide mandate that in practice subjects both civilians and military personnel to its jurisdiction, literally trying dozens of individuals in the matter of hours. Individuals subject to the judicial system in Syria are offered no rights or guarantees.
As a party to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Government of Syria has an obligation under Article 14 to guarantees the right of individuals to equality before courts and tribunals and to a fair trial. The Article covers a wide range of guarantees with different scopes of application. The Human Rights Committee emphasized that “The requirement of competence, independence and impartiality of a tribunal in the sense of article 14, paragraph 1, is an absolute right that is not subject to any exception…”
Urnammu and Release Me demanded the Government of Syria to adhere to its international obligations, guarantee the independence and impartiality of its judicial system, guarantee individuals their right to fair trial, hold perpetrators and individuals responsible for ill-practices accountable, and provide victims of human rights violations and their families with an effective remedy.