UN: halt indefinite detention at Syria camps


UN Special Rapporteur for human rights Fionnuala NĂ­ Aoláin released a statement July 22 urging the cessation of “indefinite mass detention without legal process,” particularly of children, in northeastern Syria detention centers. After arriving in Damascus, NĂ­ Aoláin visited prisons and detention sites at various places around the country and witnessed “major humanitarian challenges,” including inadequate access to water and electricity and issues with health services.

Around 52,000 people are held in the camps at al-Hol and al-Roj in Syria’s northeast. Around 60% are children, of whom 80% are under 12. Most children are there due to their parents’ supposed links to ISIL/Da’esh. Many are separated from their parents, with NĂ­ Aoláin asserting that boys are often forcibly separated from their mothers upon reaching adolescence.

Due to the ongoing civil war and fraught political situation in Syria, repatriation attempts for foreign nationals in these camps are difficult. NĂ­ Aoláin appealed to the 57 countries whose nationals are detained in northeast Syria to make efforts to repatriate their citizens. According to the UN, 36 countries have repatriated their nationals in these camps, but at curent rates it would take a “minimum of 20 years” to repatriate all within.

Both camps are under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a primarily Kurdish organization which has fought ISIL since 2014.

From Jurist, July 22. Used with permission.

See our last report on the SDF detention camps at al-Hol and al-Roj.

Photo: Abdul Aziz Qitaz/UNOCHA