News Daily Spot: UN commission accuses Syrian government of crimes against humanity in prisons

more news

UN commission accuses Syrian government of crimes against humanity in prisons

The UN commission investigating the crimes committed in the civil war in Syria accused the government of crimes against humanity in prisons today, through acts of "extermination, murder, rape, torture, forced disappearance and other inhumane acts."

The group of eminent jurists, who works documenting violations of human rights in the Syrian conflict since late 2011, said outside the battlefield a "massive and systematic violence" in places of detention, whether formal or informal register .

The chairman of the committee, the Brazilian lawyer Paulo Sergio Pinheiro told a news conference that the charge of "extermination" refers to acts that "are part of a policy or practice institutionalized" by the government, which "creates conditions in which deaths are likely to occur on a large scale. "

Moreover, in places of detention controlled by rebel groups, the commission reported mistreatment and executions of captured soldiers, and specifically accused terrorist groups Al Nusra and Islamic State of "war crimes".

Pinheiro said that no one knows the number of deaths in custody and that "it would be irresponsible to launch figures" or try to determine what percentage corresponds to combatants and civilians.

As more than 600 interviews of people who managed to survive a period of detention, former employees of prisons or relatives of dead prisoners, government forces retain "tens of thousands" while in its prisons, according to a report presented today by the investigating committee.

In addition, thousands disappeared after being arrested or while being transported through the Syrian government-controlled areas.

"The stories of hundreds of surviving prisoners, especially facilities controlled by Syrian intelligence agencies expose a frightening situation of the magnitude of violations," said the commission.

From the testimonies gathered from survivors of government bonds, "almost all described how they were victims or witnesses of torture, or cruel and degrading treatment" and although most saw terrible abuses against men, have also been documented cases of women and children -up to seven years dead in custody.

According to the evidence collected by the commission, which includes documentary material, "a large number of deaths were caused by the miserable conditions of detention", which were similar in all places that testimonies were received.

In those places, the cells were crowded with prisoners, who often had to remain standing and sleep in shifts, were infested with rats and insects, there was a lack of drinking water, sanitation, food rations were minimal and any medical emergency was ignored by guards.

"The detainees were frequently ignored or tortured if they asked for medical help," he says.

Moreover, torture is widespread and in the few cases where families are able to recover the bodies do not official channels after signing a statement noting "that the deceased was killed by terrorists."

Also, "in contrast to the causes of death of prisoners documented by the commission, most certificates indicate that the cause of death was a heart attack."

Pinheiro confirmed that "the level, the intensity of the atrocities and the number of victims increases as the civil war continues in Syria" and regretted that the Security Council of the UN, which considered as the only authority able to turn the tide things in Syria shows no interest in this.

"The commission will worry accountability. We entered the sixth year of crimes against humanity and every day new atrocities are committed, but the establishment of responsibilities seems not a matter that concerns you," said for his part the international former prosecutor Carla del Ponte, a member of the commission.

click here