Syria has become a 'torture-chamber,' says UN human rights chief

By REUTERS
March 14, 2017 10:48

The UN boss noted that the conflict, which has raged for six years, began when security officials detained and tortured a group of children.

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Residents look for survivors at a damaged site in Aleppo

Residents look for survivors at a damaged site after what activists said was a barrel bomb dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Assad in Aleppo. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The top UN human rights official called on Tuesday for the release of tens of thousands of detainees held in Syria's prisons and said that bringing perpetrators of crimes including torture to court was vital for reaching a lasting peace.

"Today in a sense the entire country has become a torture-chamber; a place of savage horror and absolute injustice," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein told the UN Human Rights Council.

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"Ensuring accountability, establishing the truth and providing reparations must happen if the Syrian people are ever to find reconciliation and peace. This cannot be negotiable," he told the Geneva forum at the start of a session on Syria.

He appealed to the warring sides to halt torture and executions and to free detainees or at least provide basic information: "names and localities of those in detention and the place of burial of those who have died".
Destruction remains in Sheikh Saeed area of Aleppo, aftermath of years of Syrian Civil War

He lamented the fact that efforts to end "this senseless carnage" had been repeatedly vetoed, an apparent reference to Russia and China's decisions to veto UN Security Council resolutions on several occasions since the war began.

Zeid noted that the conflict, which has raged for six years, began when security officials detained and tortured a group of children who had daubed anti-government graffiti on a school wall in Deraa.


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