Syria: Demand for international commission of inquiry into the circumstances of a journalist’s death after seven years of enforced disappearance


Geneva – The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties called for the formation of an international commission of inquiry into the circumstances of a Syrian journalist’s death more than seven years after he was subjected to enforced disappearance.
The Geneva Council received statements and testimonies from journalist Ali Othman’s family from Homs stating that they were officially informed of his death. In fact, he was subjected to enforced disappearance following his arrest on 28 March 2012 and then transferred in mysterious circumstances to a prison in Damascus. Afterwards, he was forced to make filmed confessions that were broadcast on Syrian television in April after being questioned about his pictures and connections with demonstrators and foreign journalists.
According to information communicated to his family, Othman died in custody on 30 December 2013, twenty-one months after his arrest. However, his corpse has not been handed over to them.
The Geneva Council strongly condemns what journalist Othman -who was known for his audacity and courage- experienced since his arrest. He transported journalists to the front lines, filmed in harsh conditions and even transported the wounded to safety since the beginning of the civil conflict in Syria.
According to identical information, Othman was subjected to severe torture before he disappeared into the Syrian authorities prison system, which refused to provide any information about his fate over his disappearance years.
The Geneva Council affirms that what journalist Othman has been subjected to is a grave violation of international law and conventions related to journalists work. It is also another episode in a long series of abuses by the Syrian regime such as the arrest and concealment of journalists and opinion activists, as well as their torture or execution during detention.
The Human Rights Council calls for the formation of an international commission of inquiry in order to investigate all the circumstances of journalist Othman case and to bring to justice those responsible for his arrest, torture and death in accordance with international standards.
It also calls upon the international community to act urgently and take immediate measures to stop violations by the Syrian authorities against journalists, including ensuring the release of detainees, revealing the fate of missing persons among them and providing protection to journalists and other civilians as a legal and moral duty.

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