In Syria, tens of thousands of individuals have vanished without a trace after arrest by the Syrian government since 2011. They are the victims of enforced disappearance– when a person is arrested, or detained by a state, or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the state, who then deny the person is being held or conceal their whereabouts. While the scale of the patterns of abuse cannot be compared with that of the Syrian government, armed opposition groups have also been responsible for enforced disappearances in areas they control and subjecting them to torture and other forms of ill-treatment, and concealing their whereabouts or fate.
The disappeared are cut off from the outside world, packed into overcrowded, secret cells where torture is routine, disease is rampant and death is commonplace. Their families are forced to live in desperation with few, if any, safe ways of trying to find their loved ones.
Amnesty International launched this website on 30 August 2017 to mark the International Day of the Disappeared with a view of raising awareness around the issue of enforced disappearance. We focus on individuals who have been targeted solely on the basis of their human rights activities.