BEIRUT (AFP) – The UN Human Rights Committee has asked Damascus to investigate the disappearances of Lebanese nationals in Syria and the practice of arbitrary detention, a Paris-based rights group said. Syria “should… take immediate steps to establish an independent and credible commission of inquiry into all disappearances,” said a UNHRC statement published by a group called Support for Arbitrarily Detained Lebanese (SOLIDA).Syria “should give a particularized account of Lebanese nationals and Syrian nationals, as well as other persons, who were taken into custody or transferred into custody in Syria,” said the committee during its annual meeting in Geneva, which ended July 29.Lebanese groups estimate that 440 Lebanese have disappeared in Syria, including some women and people who were minors at the time they disappeared.In 2000, 54 Lebanese were freed from Syrian prisons.The Lebanese government established a government commission in 2001 to investigate the cases of Lebanese prisoners, but the commission was dissolved before it could publish its findings.

In May, then prime minister Nagib Miqati announced, following a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the formation of a joint Syrian-Lebanese commission to investigate Lebanese prisoners detained in Syria.

Meanwhile, relatives of detained Lebanese protested in front of UN headquarters in Beirut to demand that their cases take priority.

Syrian media have reported that some 795 Syrians are also missing in Lebanon, without providing further details.