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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid