Syrians are ‘vanishing without a trace’, UN war crimes panel finds



GENEVA // A United Nations panel probing war crimes in Syria reported yesterday that people around the country are systematically vanishing without a trace as part of a widespread campaign of terror against civilians.

The expert panel said it found “a consistent countrywide pattern” of Syrian security, armed forces and pro-government militia seizing people in mass arrests or house searches and at checkpoints and hospitals, then making them disappear – and denying that they even exist.

Among the cases were a 60-year-old woman put in Homs prison for asking about her missing son, and a peaceful protester’s brother taken in a house raid by political security agents.

An air force defector has described orders not to provide information about the whereabouts of detainees or to speak to their relatives, the report said.

The four experts’ report said that rebel groups such as the Al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that control large parts of northern Syria also have begun seizing people and running secret prisons.

It said the opposition’s abductions of human rights advocates, journalists, activists, humanitarian workers, religious leaders and perceived supporters of the president, Bashar Assad, usually differ because the victims tend to be taken as hostages for ransom or prisoner exchanges, and their existence isn’t concealed.

However, in recent months the groups have also begun adopting the government’s practice of making people vanish.

Amnesty International also reported yesterday, based on interviews with former detainees, that ISIL has “ruthlessly flouted the rights of local people” at secret prisons in northern Syria at which torture and summary killings are common.

In an 18-page report, the Britain-based watchdog said children as young as eight are held along with adults in seven ISIL-run detention facilities in Syria’s Aleppo and Raqqa provinces. Many are held for challenging ISIL’s rule, petty crimes like theft or for committing purported “crimes against Islam” such as smoking cigarettes.

The disappearances are “part of a widespread campaign of terror against the civilian population,” and amount to a crime against humanity, reported the UN Syria war crimes panel.

The panel pressed Syria’s government to provide information and called on both sides to stop the practice.

Syrian human rights monitors have said the number of those gone without a trace is in the thousands and the targets often are doctors, aid workers, lawyers and other peaceful regime opponents.

* Associated Press

ASIAN RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP 2024

Results
Hong Kong 52-5 UAE
South Korea 55-5 Malaysia
Malaysia 6-70 Hong Kong
UAE 36-32 South Korea

Fixtures
Friday, June 21, 7.30pm kick-off: UAE v Malaysia
At The Sevens, Dubai (admission is free).
Saturday: Hong Kong v South Korea

At Everton Appearances: 77; Goals: 17

At Manchester United Appearances: 559; Goals: 253

Fourth-round clashes for British players

- Andy Murray (1) v Benoit Paire, Centre Court (not before 4pm)

- Johanna Konta (6) v Caroline Garcia (21), Court 1 (4pm)

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

The biog

Name: Timothy Husband

Nationality: New Zealand

Education: Degree in zoology at The University of Sydney

Favourite book: Lemurs of Madagascar by Russell A Mittermeier

Favourite music: Billy Joel

Weekends and holidays: Talking about animals or visiting his farm in Australia

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League semi-finals, first leg
Liverpool v Roma

When: April 24, 10.45pm kick-off (UAE)
Where: Anfield, Liverpool
Live: BeIN Sports HD
Second leg: May 2, Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Switching sides

Mahika Gaur is the latest Dubai-raised athlete to attain top honours with another country.

Velimir Stjepanovic (Serbia, swimming)
Born in Abu Dhabi and raised in Dubai, he finished sixth in the final of the 2012 Olympic Games in London in the 200m butterfly final.

Jonny Macdonald (Scotland, rugby union)
Brought up in Abu Dhabi and represented the region in international rugby. When the Arabian Gulf team was broken up into its constituent nations, he opted to play for Scotland instead, and went to the Hong Kong Sevens.

Sophie Shams (England, rugby union)
The daughter of an English mother and Emirati father, Shams excelled at rugby in Dubai, then after attending university in the UK played for England at sevens.

Tips for newlyweds to better manage finances

All couples are unique and have to create a financial blueprint that is most suitable for their relationship, says Vijay Valecha, chief investment officer at Century Financial. He offers his top five tips for couples to better manage their finances.

Discuss your assets and debts: When married, it’s important to understand each other’s personal financial situation. It’s necessary to know upfront what each party brings to the table, as debts and assets affect spending habits and joint loan qualifications. Discussing all aspects of their finances as a couple prevents anyone from being blindsided later.

Decide on the financial/saving goals: Spouses should independently list their top goals and share their lists with one another to shape a joint plan. Writing down clear goals will help them determine how much to save each month, how much to put aside for short-term goals, and how they will reach their long-term financial goals.

Set a budget: A budget can keep the couple be mindful of their income and expenses. With a monthly budget, couples will know exactly how much they can spend in a category each month, how much they have to work with and what spending areas need to be evaluated.

Decide who manages what: When it comes to handling finances, it’s a good idea to decide who manages what. For example, one person might take on the day-to-day bills, while the other tackles long-term investments and retirement plans.

Money date nights: Talking about money should be a healthy, ongoing conversation and couples should not wait for something to go wrong. They should set time aside every month to talk about future financial decisions and see the progress they’ve made together towards accomplishing their goals.

SPECS: Polestar 3

Engine: Long-range dual motor with 400V battery
Power: 360kW / 483bhp
Torque: 840Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 628km
0-100km/h: 4.7sec
Top speed: 210kph
Price: From Dh360,000
On sale: September

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

Brief scores:

QPR 0

Watford 1

Capoue 45'+1

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

Part three: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

What is a Ponzi scheme?

A fraudulent investment operation where the scammer provides fake reports and generates returns for old investors through money paid by new investors, rather than through ligitimate business activities.

THE LOWDOWN

Romeo Akbar Walter

Rating: 2/5 stars
Produced by: Dharma Productions, Azure Entertainment
Directed by: Robby Grewal
Cast: John Abraham, Mouni Roy, Jackie Shroff and Sikandar Kher