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Report says Syrian detainees face 'systematic torture'

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-03-14

Amnesty International warned on Wednesday that Syrian activists arrested during the year-long popular uprising faced "systematic torture" at the hands of the regime. The watchdog said detainees were subjected to beatings and electric shocks.

AFP - Detainees in Syria's year-old crackdown on dissent face a "nightmarish world of systematic torture" that has set the country back decades, Amnesty International warned on Wednesday.

"The scale of torture and other ill-treatment in Syria has risen to a level not witnessed for years and is reminiscent of the dark era of the 1970s and 1980s," the group said in a report based on testimony from survivors who fled to Jordan.

The experience "is now very similar to that of detainees under former president Hafez al-Assad -- a nightmarish world of systemic torture," said Ann Harrison of Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa programme.

The report, released on the eve of the anti-regime revolt's first anniversary, points to 31 methods of torture or other ill-treatment by Syrian security forces and their "shabiha" militia allies.

"Many victims said beating began on arrest, then they were beaten severely -- including with sticks, rifle butts, whips and fists, braided cables -- on arrival at detention centres," the report said.

It said testimonies of 25 people who reported having been tortured or otherwise ill-treated indicated prisoners were most at risk when under interrogation.

"Several survivors told of their experience of the dulab (tyre in Arabic), where the victim is forced into a vehicle tyre -- often hoisted up -- and beaten, including sometimes with cables or sticks."

Other methods on the increase were of the victim being suspended above or just touching the ground and beaten, or being subjected to electric shock.

One of those detained, named only as Tareq, told Amnesty of how, under interrogation in the Kafr Sousa district of Damascus, he was forced to watch the rape of another male prisoner, Khalid.

"They pulled down his trousers. He had an injury on his upper left leg. Then the official raped him up against the wall. Khalid just cried during it, beating his head on the wall," Tareq is quoted as saying.

Harrison said the testimonies amounted to "yet more evidence of crimes against humanity in Syria."

"Syrians responsible for torture -- including those in command -- should be left in no doubt that they will face justice for crimes committed under their watch," she said.

Amnesty called for the UN Human Rights Council to extend the mandate of its Commission of Inquiry on Syria "and reinforce its capacity to monitor, document and report, with a view to eventual prosecutions."

Date created : 2012-03-14

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