Question of Palestine home
Economic and Social Council
30 December 1994
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Item 10 (c) of the provisional agenda
QUESTION OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF ALL PERSONS SUBJECTED TO ANY
FORM OF DETENTION OR IMPRISONMENT
QUESTION OF ENFORCED OR INVOLUNTARY DISAPPEARANCE
Report of the Working Group on Enforced or
II. INFORMATION CONCERNING ENFORCED OR INVOLUNTARY
DISAPPEARANCES IN VARIOUS COUNTRIES
REVIEWED BY THE WORKING GROUP
246. During 1994, the Working Group transmitted one newly reported case of disappearance to the Government of Israel and retransmitted one case, updated with new information from the source.
247. There are, at present, two outstanding cases in Israel. The first case reportedly occurred in 1991 and concerns a Palestinian living in the West Bank who was believed to have been detained by the Israeli security forces. The newly reported case is said to have occurred in 1992 in Jerusalem and
concerns a man who allegedly did not return home from work. He is believed to be detained in a prison in Tel Aviv.
248. During 1994, no information was received from the Government of Israel with respect to either of these cases. The Working Group, therefore, is unable to report on the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared persons.
262. During 1994, the Working Group transmitted one newly reported case to the Government of Lebanon.
263. The majority of the 249 cases of disappearances reported to the Working Group occurred in 1982 and 1983 in the context of the Lebanese civil war. Those responsible for the disappearances are said to have belonged to the Phalangist Militia, the Lebanese Army or its security forces; in some cases, the Israeli Army was also reportedly involved in the arrest, together with one of the other forces mentioned above. Most of the detentions occurred in Beirut and its suburbs. Certain reports indicated that the arrests were made by armed men in civilian clothes operating from vehicles. In a number of cases, the missing person was reportedly arrested and taken away from the Sabra and Shatila camps in September 1982. In some cases which reportedly occurred in 1984, 1985 and 1987, the arrested persons were foreign nationals who were abducted in Beirut. In some of these cases, religious groups such as the "Islamic Holy War" later claimed responsibility for the abductions.
264. The newly reported case is said to have occurred in September 1992. It concerns a member of the political bureau of the Phalangist party who was allegedly abducted in front of his home, said to be in an area under the control of Syrian troops, by a group of armed men in civilian clothes.
265. During 1994, the Working Group received several communications from the Government of Lebanon. In one note verbale, the Government again drew the Working Group’s attention to the fact that the Lebanese authorities were not in control of the regions of the country where these disappearances had occurred because of the state of war which existed in Lebanon at that time. In a letter dated 15 June 1994, the Working Group reminded the Government of Lebanon of its obligation to do its utmost to elucidate the cases of disappearance transmitted to it in the past. Reference was made to the applicability of article 7 of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance to the circumstances which affected Lebanon at the time of the above disappearances. This article particularly emphasizes the continuing responsibility of Governments to undertake all requested investigations, until the fate of the missing persons is fully elucidated. In another communication, the Government of Lebanon informed the Working Group that the security forces had conducted the necessary investigations regarding the missing persons, in particular with religious and humanitarian organizations, but they had not found any new substantive elements. With regard to the case transmitted in 1994, the whereabouts of the person concerned remained unknown.
266. The Government of Lebanon also sent a reply regarding the implementation of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The Government indicated that the legislation and regulations in force in Lebanon already embodied the necessary provisions for the application of the Declaration and for the punishment of perpetrators.
267. Information was provided, in particular, on the rights of any suspects held in custody for more than 24 hours: the right to be presented before the court; the right to appoint a lawyer and to be contacted by him at any time, in private, during their detention; the right to be visited by their relatives and the judicial authorities; and the right to apply for release, regardless of the nature of the offence, at any stage of the judicial procedure.
Syrian Arab Republic
378. During 1994, the Working Group transmitted to the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, 17 newly reported cases of disappearance, none of which was reported to have occurred in 1994. During the same period, the Working Group clarified 11 cases in which it was reported that the persons had been released.
379. Of the total 32 cases of disappearance reported to the Working Group, a substantial number allegedly occurred in the early to mid-1980s, mostly in Damascus. Seventeen of these cases have been clarified.
380. Of the 17 newly reported cases, 11 were said to concern relatives and friends of General Salah Jadid, a former senior official of the Bath party who died in custody on 19 August 1993. The missing persons were reportedly arrested by military security forces between 23 and 29 August 1993. These cases were clarified during 1994, on the basis of information submitted by the source in which it was reported that the persons concerned had been released. Of the six other cases, four reportedly occurred in 1983 and two in 1980. Two of the persons concerned were allegedly military men. The arrests reportedly took place in Dar’a, Palmyra and Al-Qariatain.
381. During the period under review, the Government of Syria sent a number of replies on specific cases, including the 11 cases concerning the friends and relatives of General Jadid, in which it reported that they were not detained and were living in their place of residence. In two other cases, the Government reported that the persons concerned had been sentenced to death, in one case the person was sentenced to life imprisonment and was in detention, in one other case the person died in detention, two other persons had gone to Lebanon, and two other cases were not known to the Syrian Government.
GRAPHS SHOWING THE DEVELOPMENT OF DISAPPEARANCES IN
COUNTRIES WITH MORE THAN 50 TRANSMITTED CASES
These graphs do not include cases of disappearance received
by the Working Group after the adoption of the present
report on 9 December 1994