UN ‘appalled’ by death of Australian teenager in a detention facility in northeastern Syria
Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva: July 31, 2022
UN experts have expressed their deep frustration and concern following confirmation of the death of Australian teenager, Youssef Dhahab, in a detention facility in northeastern Syria.
Deaths from wounds caused by an ISIS attack:
According to the media center of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, it is believed that the boy, Zahab, died of wounds sustained in the ISIS attack in January on Al-Hasakah camp in northeastern Syria, and his injury was exacerbated by the lack of appropriate medical treatment later.
“Zahab’s death was utterly preventable, he should simply never have been held in this prison. He should have been returned to his homeland and his family with the possibility of living a full and decent life, the right to a protected and safe childhood,” the experts said.
Calls to guarantee the rights of children in Al-Hasakah and their transfer:
The experts have repeatedly called for a human rights-compliant solution to the situation of boys, including teenagers, who are being held in Hasaka and other arbitrary detention sites in the region.
“None of these boys, including Yusuf Zahab were subject to any judicial process justifying their detention, and all of them are being held in conditions that could amount to torture, or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under international law and which have a strong impact on their physical and mental health”, the experts said. “The boys are victims of terrorism and deserve to be treated with compassion, dignity and a modicum of human decency. Their release from these prisons and detention sites is necessary and overdue.”The experts urged that other injured children be removed from the detention facility and given access to necessary medical assistance, adequate medical care, rehabilitation and psychological support.
The experts stressed that they are united in the view that the principle of the best interest of the child applies to all children in detention and must be respected at all times.
Calls for Australia to return its children from Syria:
The experts pressed governments whose children remain in detention to return them home, in line with accepted extraterritorial human rights obligations to protect children’s lives, saying that states must uphold their obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and ensure assistance and protection for children who may be victims of trafficking.
The experts deeply regretted that despite their pleas, the Australian government has so far failed to return its citizens – mainly women and children – from camps and detention centers in northeastern Syria.
The experts urged the Australian government to act quickly to prevent further deaths of its nationals in northeastern Syria, and to protect the health and well-being of its child citizens through rapid repatriation.