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Syria: Detainees

Question for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

UIN 131229, tabled on 17 December 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to the Syrian regime on (a) freeing detainees and (b) holding to account those responsible for detention and disappearance; and if he will make a statement.

Answered on

11 January 2021

The UK has repeatedly condemned the use of illegal detention by the Assad regime, affiliated militias and proscribed terrorist organisations. We support the UN's call to the Assad regime and Syrian armed groups to release a sufficient number of detainees to prevent COVID-19 spreading in detention facilities, as well as their urgent request to allow humanitarian actors and medical teams unhindered access to prisons. We have raised the plight of detainees at the UN Security Council and through our leadership at the Human Rights Council where we have included language on enforced disappearance in recent Syria Resolutions. However, we do not engage directly with the regime in Damascus, which has lost its legitimacy through its atrocities against the Syrian people.

We recognise that justice and accountability for detainees is a central issue for the UN-led political process and we fully support the UN Syria Envoy's efforts to work for the release of detainees, as a vital step towards a political settlement to end the conflict. Additionally we continue to pursue sanctions as a policy tool to hold the Syrian regime to account and to bring about a peaceful solution to the conflict.