Despite how large and wide-scale the issue of enforced disappearances is in Syria, the numbers and statistics provided by human rights organisations- both Syrian and international- remain approximate, with differences between them sometimes reaching 100%, and no organisation being able to reveal the names of all those released.
This is due to many reasons, some of which are mentioned below:
- The large number of continuous arrests taking place since the beginning of the revolution till now, which at certain times reached an average of several thousands of arrests per day. This is an average which exceeds the capacity of any human rights organisation in terms of compiling and following up statistics. In addition, it also exceeds the capacity of activists on the ground, upon whom these human rights organisations depend.
- Prisoners are at times made to stay in a prison for days, whilst others remain there for a month, a number of months, a year, or two, and others are executed without their family being notified or their bodies being returned to their families. As such, the efforts of human rights organisations and activists in compiling figures are not enough as the same effort is required to follow up on those who have been released and update the names of those detained- something which is practically impossible.
- There are a large number of forces which are arresting Syrians: the army has its separate detentions, the various security intelligences of the Syrian regime all have their own prisons, militias and Hezbollah groups as well as the Iranian Guard all have their own prisons too; and it is thought that these groups do not share information on their prisoners with one another, such as names of detainees. As such, even the groups undertaking the arrests do not have complete lists of all detainees!
- Since the inception of the Syrian revolution Syria lives in exceptional conditions: continuous shelling of all areas, which in turn leads to a huge exodus of refugee movement to neighbouring countries or other areas in Syria. In every area there are checkpoints which stop those passing and arrest them. In turn, the suspension of news between individuals and families regarding their neighbours and relatives becomes very difficult to confirm or know of its causes. It will take a number of years following the end of these conditions to discover what has happened to most of those who have disappeared.
- All these difficulties are in addition to the difficulties that were present before the beginning of the Syrian revolution: the process of compiling data and observing the violations of human rights was considered a crime in its own right and a large number of activists were arrested and killed due to information leaked that they were compiling data or that they were communicating with local and international human rights organisations. Those among them who were released did not reveal any information on who had arrested them, where they were imprisoned or the treatment that they had received until after they escaped to a safe place and could guarantee that they would not be arrested once again.