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


Fate Still Unclear Of ‘Tens Of Thousands’ Of Civilian Detainees In Syria

The fate of tens of thousands of civilians being held in Syria’s “notorious” prisons or detention centres is still unclear, 10 years after the country’s civil war began, UN investigators said on Monday.

According to the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, thousands more have been subject to torture, sexual violence or death in captivity.

Despite the “staggering” wealth of evidence, almost all parties to the conflict “failed to investigate their own forces”, said Commissioner Karen Koning AbuZayd.

“The focus appears to be on concealing, rather than investigating crimes committed in the detention facilities”, she added in a statement.

More than 100 detention sites

The findings, which the panel will deliver to the Human Rights Council in Geneva next week, highlight investigations into more than 100 specific detention facilities.

They cover mass arrests of demonstrators in the early days to the mass internment of men, women and children today.

Such arbitrary detention and imprisonment have been “a root cause” and were a key “trigger” for Syria’s conflict, the investigators insisted.

No clean hands

While the panel insisted that the Government of Syria was responsible for detention, other armed groups also played their part in disappearances and other crimes and abuses on a “massive scale”. These include the joint forces of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the Syrian National Army (SNA) and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The practices of terrorist groups Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is also highlighted in the report, which is based on more than 2,500 interviews conducted over 10 years.

“Tens of thousands of people in Syria have been unlawfully deprived of their liberty at any one time”, the Commissioners said.

“Arbitrary detention and imprisonment have been deliberately instrumentalized to instil fear and suppress dissent among the civilian population or, less frequently, for financial gain. Armed groups have also targeted religious and ethnic minority groups.”

‘Unimaginable suffering’

On the cusp of the conflict’s 11th year, the investigators maintained that the warring parties have continued to mistreat detainees held in “notorious detention facilities across the country”, forcing them to endure “unimaginable suffering”.

The report concludes that this has been happening with the knowledge and acquiescence of the governments who have supported the different parties to the conflict, and calls on them to bring an end to the violations.

“While the Commission has consistently urged such releases based on abhorrent, inhuman conditions of detention, the urgency is even greater now given that overcrowded prisons are likely breeding grounds for COVID-19, where detainees in fragile health may not survive”, said Commissioner Hanny Megally.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


UN Agency: Thousands Flee Fresh Clashes In Central African Republic

Recent fighting between government forces and rebels in northern Central African Republic (CAR) has forced more than 2,000 refugees into neighboring Chad over the past week, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday. According to the agency, ... More>>

UN Chief: World On The Verge Of Climate ‘Abyss’, As Temperature Rise Continues

The Earth’s temperature continues to rise unabated, with 2020 being one of the three warmest years on record, as extreme weather events combine with the COVID-19 pandemic, impacting millions. According to the World Meteorological Organization’s ... More>>

Covid: 250 Groups Urge WTO Chief To Ditch Pharma-Friendly Approach And Embrace Vaccine Patent Waiver

by Jake Johnson, staff writer An international coalition of 250 civil society groups on Tuesday urged the head of the World Trade Organization to embrace a temporary suspension of coronavirus vaccine-related patents, warning against pursuit of a voluntary ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

C40: UN Secretary-General's Remarks To Meeting With Leading Mayors Supported By Cities

UN Secretary-General's remarks to Meeting with Leading Mayors Supported by C40 Cities: “Advancing a Carbon-Neutral, Resilient Recovery for Cities and Nations” 16 April 2021 Thank you for joining me today, and for your commitment and leadership. Cities ... More>>

Awake At Night: S3-Episode 21: There Is Hope

Brazzaville visit to CSI Pilote du Diabete with Health workers at a local government clinic. 2018 - Photo: ©CSI/Dr. Soumya Swaminathan 'When it comes to a pandemic, it really needs global collaboration and solidarity because the pathogens and viruses More>>

UN: Growing Calls For Revamping Development Financing To Ensure Sustainable Global Recovery From COVID-19 Pandemic

Forum to highlight new initiatives to tackle inequalities exacerbated by pandemic With many economies reeling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as inequalities continue to widen, world leaders will discuss options to unlock concrete investments ... More>>