Syrian authorities have systematically tortured citizens held in detention, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported [text, PDF] Tuesday. The report, entitled, "'I wanted to die' Syria's torture survivors speak out," catalogs testimony from Syrian civilians who have allegedly survived torture, detention or other harsh treatment at the hands of Syrian authorities. In addition to chronicling claims of widespread torture perpetrated by Syrian authorities, AI makes policy recommendations for both the Syrian government and the international community. The report calls on Syria to end the systematic use of torture and to stop arbitrarily arresting and isolating people who peacefully protest against the government. The report also urges governments around the world to investigate and prosecute alleged crimes against humanity that Syrian authorities have committed.
According to the many testimonies gathered and received by Amnesty International over the past year, people are almost invariably beaten and otherwise tortured and ill-treated during arrest, often during the subsequent transportation to detention centres, and routinely upon arrival at the detention centres and afterwards. Among the victims are children aged under 18. The torture and other ill-treatment appear intended to punish, to intimidate, to coerce "confessions" and perhaps to send a warning to others as to what they may expect should they also be arrested. In almost all cases the detainees are held in incommunicado detention, often for lengthy periods, with no access to visits from their families or lawyers in conditions which all too often amount to enforced disappearance.AI concludes from the aggregate of individual testimonies that Syrian officials' torture and ill treatment of detained citizens is purposeful and systematic.
Human rights groups have harshly criticized the Syrian government since crackdowns against protesters began last year. On Tuesday a UN expert on Syria declared that the human rights situation in Syria is worsening [JURIST report]. Earlier in March the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] passed a resolution [JURIST report] denouncing Syrian officials' crackdown on human rights. The resolution came on the heels of a demand for a cease-fire [JURIST report] by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] in late February. Earlier in February, the UN-appointed Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria accused the government of violating international human rights law [JURIST report] after finding that Syrian forces are engaging in torture and killings under orders from high level government officials. Also in February, Pillay and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] called for an end to the violence in Syria, with Pillay asking the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria [JURIST reports] to the International Criminal Court (ICC).