Ambassador Christopher Henzel
U.S. Senior Adviser for Near East and African Affairs
New York, New York
October 24, 2023
Thank you, Chair. We thank the Commissioners for their valuable reporting and documentation.
As the Commission of Inquiry, OHCHR, and civil society have reported, the Assad regime continues to subject Syrians to abuses and other mistreatment, including but not limited to arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance, torture, gender-based violence including rape, confiscation of property, and intimidation.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights has reported the unjust detention or disappearance of more than 155,000 Syrians, the vast majority held by the Assad regime.
As the COI reported, the regime continues to inflict torture on a widespread and systematic basis through its detention system, including subjecting refugees to arbitrary arrest and torture upon their return.
Detained Syrians are routinely denied access to fair trials, and often unjustly charged in counter-terrorism courts and have their personal property seized.
We urge all states to respect the principle of non-refoulement. We strongly encourage all parties to engage in good faith with the new Independent Institution on Missing Persons.
Despite the risks and challenges, Syrian civil society, especially women and victim-led groups, continue to press for answers on the fate of the missing and detained. We stand with them and urge all UN member states to support the annual resolution on the human rights situation in Syria.