Pillay alarmed by rise in abductions and disappearances in Syria

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Navi Pillay

Syrians continue to fall victim to a callous indifference to human life and disregard for safety, exemplified by the increasing trend of abductions and enforced disappearances, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay warned Friday.

On Monday 9 December, five masked gunmen reportedly stormed into a joint office for two human rights and humanitarian NGOs, and abducted award-winning Syrian human rights defender Razan Zaitouneh. Her husband, Wa'el Hamada, who is a prominent activist and former political prisoner, and two other colleagues, were also abducted.

Pillay said "In just the past months, we have seen a significant and deeply alarming rise in abductions of human rights defenders, activists, journalists, religious figures and others by armed opposition groups, as well as the continuing arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances of individuals by Government forces in Syria."

She said "Human rights defenders, humanitarian aid workers and activists take great personal risks on a daily basis to document human rights violations throughout Syria, and provide much-needed humanitarian aid to people, including those under siege."

Human rights chief Navi Pillay urged "all parties to the Syrian conflict to stop terrorising civilians through abduction, hostage-taking, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention, in clear violation of international human rights and humanitarian law". She also called on "all parties to the conflict to refrain from targeting civilians and to immediately release all those who are deprived of their liberty in violation of international law."

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’30″

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