News / Middle East

Syria Grants Red Cross Access to Prison

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (L) meets Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC], in Damascus, Syria, September 5, 2011.
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (L) meets Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC], in Damascus, Syria, September 5, 2011.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says its delegates, for the first time, have been allowed to visit people detained by the Syrian authorities.  Access to the prisoners was granted during a visit by the ICRC president to Syria.

The organization says delegates visited detainees in the Damascus Central Prison, in the suburb of Adra. Spokeswoman Carla Haddad Mardini tells VOA this first-ever visit to detainees in Syria is a significant step forward.  But, she adds, it is just the first step.

“The idea is to be able to visit regularly, to be able to assess the conditions of treatment and detention of detainees, to be able to speak to them in private and to be able to visit other places of detention," says Mardini. "So, this is one amongst many places of detention and the ICRC’s ambition is to be able to access all of them.”

Mardini says she cannot disclose how many prisoners were visited.  She says information about the total number of prisoners and the number of places of detention in Syria also is confidential.  

She says after ICRC delegates assess the condition and treatment of the detainees, they share their findings with the Syrian authorities.  And, if there are any problems, she says the organization suggests ways of improving the situation of the inmates.  

“Another thing is to be able to speak in private with detainees and those that are held in isolation, those who are held in groups, to be able to discuss with them in private their situation and to understand their needs and any potential problems," she says.  "So we can then discuss the issue with the detaining authorities in view of seeing an improvement in the shortest delay.  And, then we repeat visits to make sure improvements have taken place.”

Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (file photo)
Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (file photo)
The ICRC president, Jakob Kellenberger, last visited Syria in June.  Before leaving Damascus this time, he met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Mardini says that Kellenberger told the Syrian president it is crucial for people who are wounded and sick to obtain medical care without delay.

She says Kellenberger also mentioned his concerns about the humanitarian situation in Syria and discussed the rules governing the use of force.  She says ICRC chief reminded President Assad that under international law, security forces have an obligation to respect the physical and psychological well-being of people.  

The Syrian leader is facing international pressure to halt a violent crackdown on political dissent.

The rights group Amnesty International reported recently that at least 88 people have died in Syrian detention since the anti-government uprising began in March.

The United Nations says more than 2,200 people have been killed in the government's crackdown.  

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Russia’s Prosecutor General to Review Legality of Baltics Independence

Move, announced Tuesday, has alarmed Baltic States and strained even further their increasingly tense ties with Moscow More

US Urged to Keep Up Pressure on Cuba Rights

Communist government continues to hold dozens of political prisoners, tightly restricts freedom of expression, uses threats, intimidation to discourage critics, according to activist groups More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs