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.
Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deali
X
July 07, 2015 12:02 PM
If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez 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 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.

VOA Blogs