World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Pillay condemns rampant use of torture in detention in Syria

Pillay condemns rampant use of torture in detention in Syria

GENEVA (14 April 2014) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Monday condemned the rampant use of torture in detention facilities across Syria by Government forces and some armed opposition groups, as her office issued a paper containing detailed testimony from victims and witnesses.

The paper describes a broad pattern of torture and ill-treatment against individuals in Government facilities. It also documents reports of torture by some armed groups. The analysis is based on interviews by the UN Human Rights Office with individuals who have spent time in detention facilities in Syria during the conflict.

“Upon arrival at a detention facility, detainees are routinely beaten and humiliated for several hours by the guards in what has come to be known as the ‘reception party’,” the paper states, citing accounts of torture and ill-treatment by various components of the Government’s security apparatus.

“Men, women and children have been routinely picked up from the street, their homes and workplaces, or arrested at Government-manned checkpoints,” the paper states. “Many are activists – often students – as well as lawyers, medical personnel and humanitarian workers, and some just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

A 30-year-old university student described how he was beaten, how his beard was pulled out in clumps, his feet burned and his toenails torn off with pliers at an Air Force Intelligence facility in Hama, where he was interrogated daily for more than a month.

Two victims, a man and a woman, described the use of sexual violence against them. One 26-year-old woman told of repeated night-long interrogation sessions, during which she was beaten with electric cables and had her teeth pulled out. On one occasion, a security officer took her and another woman to a room where they were raped.

The paper also makes reference to cases of individuals who died in detention, in circumstances which suggest that torture was the cause.

“Occasionally, families are asked to sign papers stating that their relative was killed by armed opposition groups, and to immediately and discreetly bury the body,” it states.

Reports of torture by armed opposition groups appear to be on the rise since 2013, particularly in Al Raqqa, northern Syria, the paper states, although documenting allegations against such groups is particularly challenging due to constantly evolving alliances and changes in memberships, power structures and areas under their control.

However, testimony collected from victims suggests that those most at risk of being detained and tortured by some armed opposition groups are activists attempting to document human rights violations and individuals perceived to be pro-Government or affiliated with other armed opposition groups.

Former detainees described abhorrent conditions in Government detention centres, including one case where 60 people were crammed into one cell, with a hole in the corner to be used as a toilet. One 60-year-old man who spent three months in different detention centres described how, every day, “cellmates were taken for 30 or 45 minutes of interrogation and came back with their faces bleeding, barely able to walk, and with open wounds that remained untreated and became infected.”

Pillay stressed that international law unequivocally prohibits the use of torture, at all times and under all circumstances.

“Our findings confirm that torture is being routinely used in Government detention facilities in Syria, and that torture is also used by some armed groups,” she said. "My office is also aware of serious allegations of torture and ill-treatment of children in Syria.”

“In armed conflict, torture constitutes a war crime. When it is used in a systematic or widespread manner, which is almost certainly the case in Syria, it also amounts to a crime against humanity,” Pillay added.

“I urge the Government and armed opposition groups in Syria to immediately halt the use of torture and ill-treatment, and to release all those who have been arbitrarily detained in conditions that clearly breach international human rights standards. Those detained must be treated humanely.”

Pillay said it was crucial that those in positions of authority publicly condemn the use of torture and other ill-treatment and ensure that those found guilty of perpetrating torture are held accountable. She stressed that all victims of torture and ill-treatment should be provided with redress, including fair compensation and rehabilitation.

The High Commissioner also reiterated her request to the Government to allow regular and unannounced access to all detention facilities to impartial international observers, including her office, the Commission of Inquiry on Syria and relevant UN independent human rights experts, to enable them to effectively monitor the situation.


ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

UN Health Agency Responds To Ebola Spike

UN health agency responds to Ebola spike by deploying team on border of Guinea and Guinea-Bissau More>>

UN Casts Israel As World's Worst Violator Of Health Rights

Israel's army team of medics recently treated 1,600 victims of the Nepal earthquake. More>>

W Thousands Flee Syria’s Besieged Historic City Of Palmyra

As thousands flee Syria’s besieged historic city of Palmyra, UN refugee agency readies response plan More>>

UN Agency To Halt Housing Allowance For Palestine Refugees

Lack of funds forces UNRWA to suspend cash assistance for housing for Palestinian refugees from Syria in Lebanon. Photo: UNRWA/Shafiq Fahed More>>


Bangkok: International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, Biphophia

BMA, UN, embassy representatives, civil society and artists stand united with LGBTI Thais on International Day against Transphobia, Homophobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT) at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre More>>

Displaced Iraqis Face Difficulties As Fighting Continues

UNHCR is concerned about the processing arrangements in place at the Bzabz bridge – a series of pontoons across the Euphrates River which marks the boundary between Anbar province and the capital, Baghdad. Photo: UNHCR/G. Ohara More>>

UNESCO Chief Condemns Killing Of Bangladeshi Blogger

Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova. UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz The head of the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom worldwide today voiced ... More>>

Philadelphia: Train Crash

Five people have been confirmed dead and more than 136 people injured after an Amtrak train crashed in Philadelphia today at 9.20pm local time.More>>

UN News: Alarming Surge In Bay Of Bengal Crossings

The number of irregular migrants crossing the Bay of Bengal has almost doubled over the past year amid a dangerous uptick in human smuggling and trafficking across the region, according to a new report from the United Nations refugee agency. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news