Rights Group Details Torture of Syrian Detainees

Syrian women refugees, who fled the violence in Syria, at their temporary home at the Al Hussein Palestinian refugees camp in Amman, Jordan, March 7, 2012
Syrian women refugees, who fled the violence in Syria, at their temporary home at the Al Hussein Palestinian refugees camp in Amman, Jordan, March 7, 2012

Dozens of Syrians say they were abused or tortured in detention, according to a new report published Wednesday by the rights group Amnesty International.

Amnesty interviewed dozens of Syrians in Jordan, where they had arrived from Syria. Nineteen people gave accounts of how they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated while held in Syrian detention before crossing the border.

Maha Abu Shama was a researcher on the report. She says many detainees described how they were beaten when they were arrested and later after arriving at detention centers. During interrogation, she says they were subjected to a range of torture techniques.

"We have observed that there is a clear pattern in the way that torture is taking place that is consistent across various regions of the country," said the researcher.

Amnesty International says Syrian authorities are responsible for the abuse, which the authorities deny. The government says it is battling armed terrorist groups.

Amnesty's report details a range of torture techniques it alleges the authorities are using.

"Several of our detainees mentioned to us that they were subjected to electrical shocks, either by using electrical sticks or probes on their hands or by having electrical shocks to the water around them, or they were splashed with water and then electrocuted," said Abu Shama.

Abu Shama says the level of torture is reminiscent of Syria during the leadership of former president Hafez al-Assad, the father of Syria’s current leader. The family has ruled Syria for more than four decades.

"Survivals of torture have described to us 31 methods of torture, some of which have not been used or have rarely been used over the last few years and now they have come back," she said. "So the level of torture has risen to an extent that is similar to that in the eighties under the former president Hafez al-Assad, which was an era known for torture and other ill treatment."

Amnesty calls on the international community to defend human rights in Syria and investigate violations.

It urges the U.N. Security Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court to investigate human rights offenses.

The United Nations is to deploy human rights monitors to the states that border Syria in order to investigate alleged atrocities.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
Middle East Voices
. Follow our Middle East reports on
Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Maria
March 14, 2012 9:56 AM
Michael Vick went to jail for torturing dogs. What does Bashar Assad deserve for torturing children, raping women and burning innocent civilians alive to death?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs