The case of two disappeared Franco-Syrians in a Bachar El-Assad jail referred to the French justice

Press release
ar en es fr

(Paris)This morning, FIDH and LDH, with Mr. Obeida Dabbagh, referred the case of the forced disappearance of the latter’s brother and nephew, Patrick and Mazzen Dabbagh, two Franco-Syrian nationals, to the office of the Prosecutor of the Paris Court’s specialised unit for the prosecution of crimes against humanity and war crimes. Patrick and Mazzen Dabbagh were arrested in November 2013 by the Syrian Air Forces intelligence service, and were never seen again.

In the document filed with the Prosecutor, our organisations, together with Mr. Obeida Dabbagh, are requesting an immediate judicial investigation, through the appointment of an investigative judge, into the events which we feel qualify as crimes of forced disappearance and torture, constituents of crimes against humanity.

"We are hoping that the Public Prosecutor’s office will file a request to open a judicial investigation as soon as possible into these extremely grave events which reflect the widespread repression that has been inflicted on the people of Syria since 2011", our organisations declared and added: "Since we cannot refer crimes perpetrated in Syria to the International Criminal Court, it is time for the justice systems of third countries to begin investigating the crimes committed by the Bachar El Assad’s regime".

Our organisations wish to recall that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had, in September 2015 transferred the Caesar Report to the Public Prosecutor of the Paris Court’s specialised unit, who had started a preliminary investigation. Now the unit is too desperately short of resources to move this case forward, as with other cases that have been referred to it.

"It is urgent that the French authorities, as some of their European counterparts have done, provide sufficient funding to the Unit to conduct its investigations adequately", declared our organisations. "This is the only way that we will be able to ascertain how serious the French authorities are about dealing with the impunity of the crimes committed in Syria".

Some of the courts and units specialised in international crimes, particularly in Sweden, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Austria, have already been addressing the crimes committed in Syria. But the investigations and prosecutions do not address the crimes attributable to the Bachar El-Assad regime.

The fight against impunity and the application of justice for all the crimes committed against the Syrians should be central to any resolution of the Syrian conflict", declared our organisations.

The facts:

Patrick Abdelkader Dabbagh, a 20-year old student in his second year at the Damascus University Faculty of Arts and Humanities, was arrested at midnight on 3 November 2013 at his home by five persons (two officers, two soldiers and a computer scientist) who said that they belonged to the Syrian air force intelligence services and wanted to take him in for questioning, but did not give any reason or grounds for his arrest.

The next day, 4 November, the same officers, this time accompanied by close to a dozen armed soldiers, returned at midnight to accuse Mazzen Dabbagh, Patrick’s father of not having raised his son well, and then arrested him in order to teach him how to educate his son. At the time, Mazzen was the Senior Education Adviser at the French School of Damascus.

Mazzen and Patrick Abdelkader were both taken to Mezzeh, the detention centre of the Syrian Air force intelligence services. The two men have disappeared ever since. Mazzen Dabbagh and his son Patrick have never been involved in any protest movements against the Bachar El-Assad regime, neither before nor after, the March 2011 uprising.

The Mezzeh centre has a very strong reputation as one of the regime’s worst places of torture. The Independant International Commission of enquiry on Syria believes that it is one of the centres with the highest mortality rates.

To know more about the conditions of detention and acts of torture in the prisons of the regime => Syria: the plight of detainees
Read more