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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.