14 October 2016

Syria: A 59-year-old Man Disappeared Since 1999 Following His Transfer by the Lebanese Authorities

On 13 October 2016, Alkarama wrote to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced Disappearance (WGEID) regarding the case of a Lebanese citizen from the village of Brummana, in the Mount Lebanese Governorate, who disappeared in Syria in 1999. Arrested by the Lebanese Army in 1997, he was brought to an unknown place of detention and later transferred to the Syrian authorities. His family remains without any official information on his fate and whereabouts since 1999, when his sister last saw him in a detention centre in Damascus.

On 24 January 1997, Najib Al Jarmani, a 59-year-old school bus driver, was arrested at home in the village of Brummana in the Mount Lebanese Governorate by members of the Lebanese Army wearing civilian clothes, and taken to an unknown location. His family could not obtain any information on his fate and whereabouts until they learnt that he had been transferred to Syria, probably between 1997 and 1998. Between 1998 and 1999, Al Jarmani was detained in the Palestine Branch (Branch 235) of the Military Intelligence Division in Damascus, where his sister visited him three times. He was also supposedly later detained in the Mezzeh prison and in the Sednaya prison, both in the suburbs of Damascus. After 1999, his family was no longer allowed to visit him and remains since without any official information on his fate and whereabouts.

Al Jarmani was allegedly accused of the "crime of espionage for Israel" and sentenced to the death penalty by a Syrian court. The actions undertaken by his family before the Lebanese authorities remained without result and, since his criminal file is kept secret, his family is left without any official information. In 2003, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) issued an opinion (No. 11/2003) in which it was stated that his sentence "constitutes a violation of the standards on fair trials of such a gravity as to confer an arbitrary character on the deprivation of liberty". The WGAD urged the State of Syria to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation however, Al Jarmani remains disappeared. In its responses to the WGAD, the Syrian authorities did not communicate any place of detention or the status of the victim.

According to his family, in 2005, Al Jarmani was granted a presidential amnesty from the Syrian authorities. His family was informed that along with other detainees, he was sent to the Syrian-Lebanese border to be released however, for an unknown reason, he was not. His sister reported that she received, about six months ago, informal information according to which her brother was still alive. However, the source did not indicate his current place of detention.

Consequently, Alkarama expressed grave concern over the case of Al Jarmani and the serious violations of his basic rights to the WGEID. We therefore solicited the UN experts' intervention with the Syrian authorities to ensure that the relatives of Al Jarmani be immediately informed of his fate and whereabouts and that he be released or at least immediately placed under the protection of the law.

For more information or an interview, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Tel: +41 22 734 1008).

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