News

    UN Rights Office Documents Torture in Syria

    Syrian opposition members of government take part in a demonstration calling for more human rights in Syria, including putting a stop to physical torture in prisons, on the occasion of International Human Rights Day, in Beirut, December 10, 2009.
    Syrian opposition members of government take part in a demonstration calling for more human rights in Syria, including putting a stop to physical torture in prisons, on the occasion of International Human Rights Day, in Beirut, December 10, 2009.
    Lisa Schlein

    The United Nations Human Rights Office says video shown on British television Monday night of people being tortured in Syrian hospitals is in line with evidence gathered by U.N. fact-finding missions. The agency says systematic torture has been going on in Syria for the past four decades.    

    Two United Nations investigations have documented human rights violations in Syria, including torture. Reports say the violations have been going on since 1963 and were generally carried out under the cloak of emergency legislation.  

    U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville says Syria's security forces, which carry out alleged brutality, have immunity from prosecution by law. He says methods of torture include beatings, electric shocks, psychological torture and humiliation. He cited documented cases of injured people taken to military hospitals, where they were allegedly beaten during interrogation.

    “Torture and killings reportedly took place in the Homs Military Hospital, which is the one shown in the Britain's Channel 4 footage by security forces dressed as doctors and allegedly acting with the complicity of medical personnel," he said. "In other words, what the Commission of Inquiry reported back in November is pretty much what you see both visually and in the witness account in the Channel 4 footage. As people became afraid of going to public hospitals, makeshift clinics started to be set up in mosques and in private houses and they also became targets.” 

    The U.N. has received testimonies saying people injured during an anti-government uprising in the last year were prevented from receiving treatment in public hospitals in several locations, including Homs.  

    Syria's state-run news agency, SANA, quoted President Bashar al-Assad Tuesday saying Syrians have proved their determination to pursue reform and to fight "foreign-backed terrorism," which the Syrian government blames for the nearly year-long unrest.

    But Colville says the latest U.N. report, issued last month, describes how security agencies arrest wounded patients in state-run hospitals and interrogate them, often using torture.

    “The Commission of Inquiry documented evidence that sections of the Homs Military Hospital and the Ladhiquiyah State Hospital had been transformed into torture centers, actually within the hospitals," said Colville. "Security agents, in some cases joined by medical staff, chained seriously injured patients to their beds, electrocuted them, beat wounded parts of their body or denied them medical attention and water. Medical personnel who did not collaborate faced reprisals.”  

    Last week, the U.N. rights council adopted a resolution strongly condemning violations against civilians in Syria. Two envoys on U.N. missions - U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos and former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan - are due in Damascus this week for talks with Syrian officials in an effort to end almost a year of violence and press for international humanitarian aid.

    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.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.