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How  to  Get  Involved  in  SJAC’s  Missing  Persons  Program
Syrian Missing Persons and Forensic Team attend a training in Erbil, Iraq

How to Get Involved in SJAC’s Missing Persons Program

SJAC’s missing person program seeks to discover the fates of and pursue justice for those kidnapped by ISIS in Northeast Syria. SJAC is actively seeking information about those who were kidnapped by ISIS in Northeast Syria as well as evidence on the ISIS detention system at large. If you have a loved one who was forcibly disappeared by ISIS, SJAC can collect and preserve your loved ones’ information for investigations. Likewise, if you survived ISIS detention or possess evidence regarding ISIS detention or killings, please contact us so we can discuss whether the documentation in your possession could support investigations.

Because of the complexity of missing persons’ investigations, SJAC anticipates that the search for the missing will take many years. For this reason, SJAC cannot provide immediate information regarding the location of specific missing persons, and does not anticipate being able to do so in the near future. However, SJAC retains contact information for all families providing documentation, and will reach out to families to provide updates promptly when and if investigations yield results. In the meantime, SJAC seeks to continually provide updates on investigations in general, as well as opportunities for involvement.

Frequently Asked Questions

I have a missing loved one. What will happen when I interview with SJAC?

If you choose to participate, SJAC will set up an interview in order to collect basic information on your loved one and the nature of their disappearance. Interviews can be set up in-person or virtually, depending on your location and preference. Both female and male interviewers are available. An SJAC documenter will also collect information that could be utilized to identify your loved ones remains in the case that they are deceased. SJAC recognizes that providing such documentation can be particularly upsetting, and family members are welcome to provide interviews that exclude information intended to assist in the identification of remains. After the interview, all relevant documentation will be stored in SJAC’s secure database and utilized to support investigations into the fates of those missing as well as other relevant justice and accountability efforts.

What should I expect from SJAC after I talk to you?

It is important to note that SJAC doesn’t have concrete information about the whereabouts of missing persons, however we are actively pursuing investigations and placing pressure on decision makers to access further information they may have on the missing. In the short-term, SJAC will be able to conduct an interview about your missing loved one, and discuss options for advocacy, if you are interested.

My loved one lived in Iraq, and I think they were kidnapped by ISIS and brought to Syria. Should I contact SJAC?

Yes! SJAC is actively working to document and seek justice for all victims of ISIS in Northeast Syria, no matter their citizenship. An SJAC documenter can interview you to learn about your missing loved one and the nature of their disappearance.

I’m Syrian, but I think my kidnapped loved one was brought to Iraq. Should I contact SJAC?

Yes. While SJAC’s current investigation is focused on Northeast Syria, SJAC is ultimately seeking justice for all Syrians, and will share missing persons data relevant to Iraq with UNITAD and other partners to support missing persons investigations there.

I have already provided a full interview to another organization regarding my missing loved one. Should I contact SJAC?

SJAC works with a wide variety of partners to ensure that documentation is effectively shared for missing persons investigations. Because completing a missing persons interview can be stressful, SJAC does not conduct interviews with those who have already provided similar documentation. However, you and your family are still welcome to participate in SJAC’s efforts to support family advocacy, and can contact us to learn more. If you would like to ensure that SJAC has access to your previous interview, you can contact us and let us know what organization you previously provided information to.

I am not related to any missing person. However, I have witnessed ISIS burying bodies, should I contact SJAC?

Yes, any information related to gravesites created by the Islamic State is vital for missing persons investigations. Gravesites often go undocumented and can be obscured by surface activity over time which is why eyewitness accounts are so important. Whether you directly witnessed the creation of a grave or have other information regarding the possible location of a grave, please contact us. We share information about potential gravesites with the Syrian Missing Persons and Forensic Team, which can ensure the site is protected from disturbances and prepared for future exhumation.

I know the location of former ISIS Hisba and courtroom offices that still house official documents. Should I contact the Syria Justice and Accountability Centre?

Yes. ISIS documents, especially from ISIS courts and Hisba offices, allow SJAC to trace the movements of detainees. These documents record information concerning arrests, punishments, and releases of detainees and can be instrumental in understanding the paths and ultimate destinations of individual missing persons. If you yourself possess such documents or you know where they may be, please reach out. SJAC will preserve documents in our secure system, analyze them for the purpose of missing persons investigations, and share relevant information with the appropriate authorities.

I was detained by ISIS during their control of my city. Should I contact SJAC?

Yes. Even if you were only detained for a short period of time, what you witnessed can help in missing persons investigations. Whether you recognized fellow detainees or know the location of the facility where you were held, SJAC can use this information to build a timeline of where and when detainees went missing. Even if you are not sure your information is useful, small details can build a bigger picture of ISIS crimes and help us to hold perpetrators accountable.

I don’t fit any of the descriptions above, but I think I may have some relevant information.

Please, reach out! SJAC’s documenters are happy to discuss, via email, text, or phone, whether your information is of interest. We are happy to speak to you anonymously, if that makes you more comfortable. SJAC is always interested in information regarding persons who have gone missing in Northeast Syria, the location and operation of ISIS detention facilities (including temporary holding facilities or private homes where enslaved persons were held), and the location of gravesites. Information about administrative hierarchies within ISIS and how detention facilities operated is also invaluable.

We are quite certain our missing loved one is dead since we received a video produced by ISIS that shows their execution. However, we never received the body. Should we contact the Syria Justice and Accountability Centre?

Yes, even if you have received information that your loved one is deceased, you have the right to understand what happened to them and to receive their remains, both of which are goals of SJAC’s program. Receiving information on deceased detainees can also provide SJAC invaluable information on how ISIS operated and the possible fates of other detainees. SJAC can conduct an interview about your loved one and preserve any photos, videos or other evidence you received confirming their death.

Our missing person is a woman, not a man, should we contact SJAC?

Yes. SJAC collects information on missing persons regardless of gender and encourages you to get in contact and share whatever information you have. SJAC’s team includes both male and female interviewers, so prior to providing an interview, please feel free to let us know if you have a preference for who you would like to discuss your case with.

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For more information or to provide feedback, please contact SJAC at [email protected] and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Subscribe to SJAC’s newsletter for updates on our work