03 December 2015

Syria: 15-year-old Girl Abducted and Forcibly Recruited by the Kurdish People's Protection Units in December 2014 Still Missing

Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) Reuters

In late December 2014, Hamrein Hussein, a 15-year-old Syrian Kurdish student from Amuda, was abducted on her way to school by a patrol of the People's Protection Units (YPG) – Syrian Kurdistan's armed forces – and forcibly enrolled. Seized of her case by her family, Alkarama and Human Rights Guardians referred it to the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (CoI Syria) on 2 December 2015.

On 23 December 2014, as Hamrein left her home in Amuda − a town in north-eastern Syria, part of the Syrian Kurdistan − to go to school, a patrol of the People's Protection Units (YPG) − the main armed forces of Syrian Kurdistan, then in control of the town − stopped her and arrested her.

The following day, Hamrein's father received a phone call from a woman who identified herself as a "member of the women's unit in YPG" who told him that his daughter was now "being trained with them" and for this reason she would "soon be brought outside Syria." Surprised, her father replied that Hamrein was still a minor – 15 years old at the time of her abduction – and had never expressed any intent to join the YPG and fight with them. This was the last time Hamrein's family received any information about her.

Worried about her fate since her disappearance almost a year ago, her family complained to the local authorities, but to no avail. They therefore turned to Alkarama and Human Rights Guardians, in the hope that these human rights NGOs could help locate Hamrein.

"Not only was Hamrein enforcedly disappeared, she was also forced to enrol as a child soldier within the ranks of the YPG, a practice prohibited by both International Human Rights Law and Humanitarian Law (IHL)," says Inès Osman, Alkarama's Legal Officer for the Mashreq. "All the more concerning are the numerous reports of similar child recruitment and child soldiering within the YPG ranks and this, in violation of the 'Deed of Commitment' they signed with the organisation Geneva Call, in which they pledged to demobilise all fighters under 18."

After having been contacted by Hamrein's family, Alkarama and Human Rights Guardians referred her case to the CoI Syria established by a Resolution of the Human Rights Council on 22 August 2011 to investigate "all alleged violations of international human rights law [in Syria] since March 2011" and to ensure that "perpetrators of violations, including those that may constitute a crime against humanity, are held accountable."

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Syria - HR Instruments

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

ICCPR: Accessed on 21.04.1969
Optional Protocol: No

State report: Overdue since 01.08.2009 (4th)
Last concluding observations: 09.08.2005

Convention against Torture (CAT)

CAT: Accessed on 19.08.2004
Optional Protocol: No
Art. 20 (Confidential inquiry): No
Art. 22 (Individual communications): No

State report: Overdue since 14.05.2014 (2nd)
Last concluding observations: 29.06.2012

International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED)


Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

Last review: 10.2011 (1st cycle)
Next review: 2016 (2nd cycle)

National Human Rights Institution (NHRI)