News / Middle East

HRW: Syria Has 'Archipelago' of Torture Centers

Syrian opposition members take part in a demonstration calling for more human rights in Syria, including putting a stop to physical torture in prisons, Beirut, Lebanon, December 10, 2009. Syrian opposition members take part in a demonstration calling for more human rights in Syria, including putting a stop to physical torture in prisons, Beirut, Lebanon, December 10, 2009.
x
Syrian opposition members take part in a demonstration calling for more human rights in Syria, including putting a stop to physical torture in prisons, Beirut, Lebanon, December 10, 2009.
Syrian opposition members take part in a demonstration calling for more human rights in Syria, including putting a stop to physical torture in prisons, Beirut, Lebanon, December 10, 2009.
Selah Hennessy
LONDON — Syrian authorities have built an “archipelago” of at least 27 torture centers, according to Human Rights Watch. In a report published Tuesday, the advocacy group says abuse at the centers constitutes a crime against humanity.  

“The kinds of torture that we are talking about are really appalling types of abuse,"said David Mepham, the United Kingdom director of Human Rights Watch.

"We've had people put in stress positions, we've had people who have been electrocuted, we've had people burned with acid, we've had people subject to sexual abuse – terrible crimes have been committed,” Mepham said.

Human Right Watch began researching the report in March 2011 and has since conducted more than 200 interviews. The report has maps showing the location of the alleged detention centers. It also lists the agencies and, in many cases, specific commanders involved in the abuses.

Mepham said the aim of the report is to identify those responsible for abuse and where it has taken place so that one day individuals can be held accountable.


"We've had people put in stress positions, we've had people who have been electrocuted, we've had people burned with acid, we've had people subject to sexual abuse - terrible crimes have been committed,” Mepham said.

Human Right Watch began researching the report in March 2011 and has since conducted more than 200 interviews. The report has maps showing the location of the alleged detention centers. It also lists the agencies and, in many cases, specific commanders involved in the abuses.

Related video report by Meredith Buel:

Syrian Government Accused of Widespread Torturei
X
July 03, 2012 10:27 PM
Human Rights Watch is accusing the Syrian government of widespread torture at 27 facilities across the country. The report comes as violence continues to escalate and international diplomatic efforts to end the conflict appear to be making little progress. VOA Correspondent Meredith Buel reports from Washington.
Mepham said the aim of the report is to identify those responsible for abuse and where it has taken place so that one day individuals can be held accountable.

He said responsibility ultimately rests with those at the top of the Syrian government.

“Under what's called command responsibility, even if a more junior person in the Syrian intelligence agency or the Syrian military was responsible for this abuse, one would expect that the commanders responsible for that unit or that branch of the intelligence agency would know what was going on, would take steps to address it," Mepham said. "So the accountability and criminal responsibility for this abuse goes very high in the Syrian regime.”

The Syrian government thus far has not responded to the report’s allegations.

Human Rights Watch said the ill treatment carried out at the prisons constitutes a crime against humanity. The organization wants the United Nations Security Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court. It also wants targeted sanctions against officials implicated in abuse.

Fawaz Gerges of the London School of Economics said it is unlikely the report will sway the U.N. Security Council. “I think that Russia and China have neutralized the Security Council and thus the human rights report will not be able to bring about any qualitative change in how the Syrian crisis is basically viewed regionally and internationally,” he said.

For China and Russia, he said, the situation in Syria is viewed as a civil war in which both sides commit abuses.

“You cannot compare what the Syrian authorities have been doing to what the opposition has done so far," he said. "And yet the abuses are there and that's why the more the violence continues, the more human rights violations will be carried out in Syria by both the Syrian authorities and the armed wing of the opposition.”

In response to the Human Rights Watch report, Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague said Tuesday that there is “no hiding place” for those committing abuses in Syria.

He said Britain will work with its international partners to ensure those responsible face justice.

You May Like

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 3
    Next 
by: Spongebob1966 from: Edmonton, Canada
July 04, 2012 2:19 PM
Yes, and these opposition forces that are getting mistreated are BLOMBING UP!!! goverment employees and civilians (including woman and children)?!?!


by: Michael from: USA
July 04, 2012 8:30 AM
God bless VOA! God bless Americans working on this Fourth of July Independence. Syria is being depicted as a Satanic entity. In reality, the leadership believes they are doing their duty to God. To change this, one would have to go back to the 1967 Six Day War. It is much too late for such retrospection


by: Carl Loeber from: US
July 03, 2012 9:51 PM
How ridiculous are the leaders of the West .. they say they will bring the criminals to justice .. after they have finished their deeds .. but they will not stop the criminals from doing the deeds .. what cowards are these leaders .. ridiculous cowards ..


by: Anonymous
July 03, 2012 9:32 PM
Syria Has 'Archipelago' of Torture Centers So do we.
And Iraq had WMD. Iran is very bad. Israel is the best. Propaganda as usual.


by: Fred Johnson from: Frederickburg VA
July 03, 2012 9:25 PM
“Under what's called command responsibility, even if a more junior person in the Syrian intelligence agency or the Syrian military was responsible for this abuse, one would expect that the commanders responsible for that unit or that branch of the intelligence agency would know what was going on, would take steps to address it," Mepham said. "So the accountability and criminal responsibility for this abuse goes very high in the Syrian regime.”
WOW that is really perceptive reasoning... Now why don't you apply it to your own country, with a board in your eye


by: Charlie McHenry from: Medford, OR
July 03, 2012 9:07 PM
Let's call this what it is, the long-anticipated war between Shia/Alawite and Sunni/Salafi sects of Islam. Does the Western world really want to hand Syria over to Salafis? That's who plotted and executed 9/11. Salafi extremists. We'd better pick our allies very carefully in this particular conflict, as all is not as it seems.


by: MSG G from: USA
July 03, 2012 7:51 PM
Well you have been warned, the less educated who have replied make reference to US torture. We are still the country who is bound by political correctness and our wars of law that govern It in such things. Our techniques are elementary compared to techniques used by our middle eastern friends. I wanted information but the army would let me use a sword or other devices to pilfer information. If you are comparing us to them you must be an arm chair warrior who has never experienced what occurs.

In Response

by: Endle Winters from: California
July 04, 2012 12:26 PM
Good one. Equate criticism of the US with being uneducated and ignorance of "what really goes on.."
The fact remains: the U.S. is not a panacea of virtue and human rights. The U.S. has the highest rate of incarceration of any country in the world, tortures detainees, and recently passed a law that allows the government to detain its citizens indefinately on "suspicion of affiliation with terrorist organizations"

Now reason that out with some vague logic.


by: ouchosparks from: USA
July 03, 2012 6:58 PM
The US, having embraced torture as a policy, and refusing to investigate and prosecute high officials who have admitted authorizing or ordering torture, can say nothing condemnatory against Syria. Indeed, Syria has in the past tortured US rendered prisoners, all with the knowledge and approval of our government.


by: jp from: canada
July 03, 2012 6:07 PM
After reading the article and comments, I despair of the human race. What does it matter who else does it? If that's your excuse for what you do, then you might as well give up the ghost.


by: jak jones from: australia
July 03, 2012 6:04 PM
What like Guantanamo? That bad huh, better get Obama to close em down ha ha

Comments page of 3
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid