Two Iraqi citizens remain disappeared after their transfer from Syria to Iraq in February 2020

Two Iraqi citizens remain disappeared after their transfer from Syria to Iraq in February 2020

In October 2006, Ali Al Khazali and Hazim Al Zameli, two Iraqi citizens from the Al Diwaniyah province, were arrested by Syrian security forces during a tourist trip. Although the Syrian authorities never acknowledged details regarding their detention, their families believed that might have been detained inside Sidnaya prison’s “Red building”. On February 2020, Messrs Al Khazali and Al Zameli were transferred secretly from Syria and Iraq. Their family were informed informally that the Iraqi Intelligence and Terrorism Investigation Department is currently responsible for their detention.
Latest Updates
July 21, 2020: MENA Rights Group requests the urgent intervention of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances.
June 10, 2020: The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances sends a communication to the Syrian authorities requesting them to clarify Al Khazali and Al Zameli’s fates and whereabouts.
September 4, 2019: MENA Rights Group requests intervention of UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.
May 13, 2019: Family submits an application for release before the Public Prosecutor of the Terrorism Court of the First Chamber in Damascus with the assistance of a Syrian officer.
2008: Transferred from the “Palestine branch” of the Military Intelligence in Damascus to the Sidnaya prison.
October, 15, 2006: Arrested by the Criminal Security Branch of Bab Musla.

In October 2006, Al Khazali and Al Zameli, two cousins from the Al Diwaniyah province, were visiting Damascus as tourists when they were suddenly arrested. While they entered Syria from Iraq two weeks prior to their arrest, the two cousins had been staying in a rented apartment in Set Zaynab in the Rif Dimashq Governorate. On October 15, 2006, they were arrested at the rented apartment by members of the Criminal Security Branch of Bab Musla before being transferred to the “Palestine branch” of the Military Intelligence in Damascus where they were interrogated and tortured. After two years of detention at the “Palestine branch”, they were transferred to the Sidnaya prison.

In May 2019, the victims’ relatives were in contact with a Syrian officer of the 4th Armoured Division who had agreed to give them information in exchange for money. The family was in contact with him until the end of July 2019. Through this source, they were able to submit an application for release before the Public Prosecutor of the Terrorism Court of the First Chamber in Damascus on May 13, 2019. Following this step, the Syrian officer was able to inform the victims’ family that the two cousins were facing terrorism charges on the basis of fabricated allegations made by the landlord of the apartment rented in 2006. According to the same source, they are now secretly detained inside Sidnaya prison’s “Red building” which is used by the Syrian regime to detain civilians who have been arrested since the beginning of the uprising in 2011. It has been reported that thousands of people detained in the “red building” have been summarily executed, after being held in conditions amounting to enforced disappearance.

By the end of May 2019, the victims’ family shared all the recently obtained information on Al Khazali and Al Zameli’s fate and whereabouts with the Iraqi ministry of foreign affairs in Baghdad and the Iraqi Embassy in Damascus, who confirmed the cousins’ detention in Syria and advised the family to come to Syria to address the matter directly with the local authorities. The family did not go to Syria for fear of being arrested.

On February 4, 2020, around 300 Iraqi detainees were secretly transferred from Syria to Iraq including Ali Al Khazali and Hazim Al Zameli. Their family were informed informally that they are now being detained by the Iraqi Intelligence and Terrorism Investigation Department, which reports to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior.

On July 21, 2020, MENA Rights Group requested the urgent intervention of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances, urging the Iraqi authorities take urgent action to locate the two cousins and place them under the protection of the law.