Syria running torture center network: rights group

NEW YORK Tue Jul 3, 2012 9:12am EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Syrian intelligence agencies are running a network of torture centers across the country where detainees are beaten with batons and cables, burned with acid and sexually assaulted, Human Rights Watch said in a report on Tuesday.

The state-sanctioned abuses amounted to crimes against humanity that should be investigated by the International Criminal Court, the New York-based campaign group added.

Its report identified 27 detention centers it said intelligence agencies have been using since March 2011 when President Bashar al-Assad's government began a crackdown on pro-democracy protests that have grown into an armed revolt.

Syria's government did not immediately respond to the accusations which have been echoed in earlier reports by the United Nations.

Human Rights Watch said tens of thousands of people had been detained by Syria's Department of Military Intelligence, the Political Security Directorate, the General Intelligence Directorate and the Air Force Intelligence Directorate.

The group said it conducted more than 200 interviews with people who said they were tortured, including a 31-year-old man who was detained in the Idlib area in June and made to undress.

"Then they started squeezing my fingers with pliers. They put staples in my fingers, chest and ears. I was only allowed to take them out if I spoke. The staples in the ears were the most painful," he was quoted as saying.

"They used two wires hooked up to a car battery to give me electric shocks. They used electric stun-guns on my genitals twice. I thought I would never see my family again. They tortured me like this three times over three days," he added.

Human Rights Watch said it documented more than 20 torture methods that "clearly point to a state policy of torture and ill-treatment and therefore constitute a crime against humanity".


United Nations human rights investigators have made similar reports.

"Torture is one of the most extensively and best documented of the many awful human rights violations taking place in Syria over the past 15 months," U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a news briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.

There has been a "constant stream of very consistent information about widespread systematic use of torture, and of course if it is widespread and systematic, that amounts to a crime against humanity," he said.

A recent U.N. mission to the region interviewed people who had faced severe beatings, electric shocks, cigarette burns, mock executions, and sleep deprivation, he said.

Human Rights Watch called for the U.N. Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and impose sanctions on officials carrying out abuse.

"The reach and inhumanity of this network of torture centers are truly horrific," Ole Solvang, emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch said. "Russia should not be holding its protective hand over the people who are responsible for this."

Russia - an ally of Syria - and China have already vetoed two council resolutions that condemned Damascus and threatened it with sanctions.

The United Nations has said more than 10,000 people have been killed during the 16-month Syria conflict.

The complete Human Rights Watch report, which includes maps of the detention centers, can be seen here: here

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols in New York; Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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Comments (14)
carlloeber wrote:
President Obama is more interested in his re-election than in saving the Syrians from torture .. President Obama should have acted to stop the murder more than 400 days ago .. by sending in drones for the dictator’s palaces in Damascus .. instead President Obama has descended into ignominious cowardice ..

Did the Kremlin wait to get UN approval when they went sent tanks into Georgia in 2008 ? Why is President Obama handcuffed by the Kremlin ? we can only say that it is because he does not want to save the Syrians .. he does not want to send in drones .. he does not want to risk re-election chances and thinks he can shirk his responsibility as leader of the free world ..

Who does President Obama and the West depend on the save the Syrian children ? The same man who the US depended to save the Rwandan and Bosnian children ..

Syrian authorities are systematically detaining and torturing children, the United Nations’ human rights chief, Navi Pillay, has told the BBC.…

President Obama has allowed this to happen .. he has given free rein to the dictators in Damascus and abandoned the Syrian people .. he said the right things when he lead the charge against Qaddafi .. but has let his re-election rule his moral sense on Syria ..

It is disgraceful cowardice unbecoming of the leader of the home of the brave ..

He could have shot back at the Damascus dictators 487 days ago when they started shooting innocent protesters .. He could have sent cruise missiles and drones to attack the palace of the dictator and his tanks and artillery .. He and the other leaders of the West meekly bow to the Kremlin and Chinese dictators .. instead they only strain their intelligence coming up with new words to say how horrible are the Syrian dictators’ atrocities ..

March 28, 2011, President Obama said .. “when people were being brutalized in Bosnia in the 1990s, it took the international community more than a year to intervene with air power to protect civilians.”

“To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and — more profoundly — our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are,” (Except in an election year?)

“Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different,” (Except in an election year?)

2011: “And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.”

2012: Coward.

I have been to Syria and never met a better people .. they deserve the dignity of aid from President Obama and the West ..

Jul 03, 2012 1:25am EDT  --  Report as abuse
ever hear of GITMO?..Abu Ghraib?..did you know CIA and MI6 rendered people to be tortured in Libya under Gaddafi, before they turned on him and murdered him?..did you know Israel tortures kids, for throwing stones?..did you know this?..

Jul 03, 2012 2:40am EDT  --  Report as abuse
frankysbride wrote:
The facts expressed in that post are just sick. Thanks, Reuters!

Jul 03, 2012 3:21am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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