Syria must account for dead detainees: U.N.

A Syrian girl holds a portrait of a man reportedly in prison as she sits on the shoulders of a protester during a demonstration against the government in the rebel-held town of Maaret al-Numan, in the north of Idlib province on September 28, 2018. / AFP / OMAR HAJ KADOUR

U.N. war crimes investigators called on Syria Wednesday to tell families what happened to their relatives who disappeared and provide the medical records and remains of those who died or were executed in custody. No progress can be made toward a lasting peace to end the nearly 8-year-old war without justice, the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria said.

After years of government silence, Syrian authorities this year released “thousands or tens of thousands” of names of detainees alleged to have died, mostly between 2011 and 2014, it said in a report released before delivery to the U.N. Security Council.

“Most custodial deaths are thought to have occurred in places of detention run by Syrian intelligence or military agencies. The Commission has not documented any instance, however, where bodies or personal belongings of the deceased were returned,” it said.