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Syrian regime 'exterminates' detainees, says UN

More than 200 former government detainees witnessed one or more deaths in custody [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 8 February, 2016

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A UN report states that the Syrian regime and high-ranking military officers are individually, criminally liable for crimes committed against humanity, including the torture and mass murder of detainees.
The Syrian regime is guilty of carrying out a campaign of "extermination" in its detention centres, the UN has said. 

A UN report also reported widespread torture and rape, declaring that Damascus was well aware of deaths "on a massive scale" in custody.

The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria report stated that the government "knew of the vast numbers of deaths occurring in detention facilities under their effective control".

It added that Damascus "did not take action to prevent the abuses, investigate allegations or prosecute those responsible". 

Due to this, the UN holds high-ranking members of the Syrian regime accountable for the murders in custody.

"High-ranking officers - including the heads of branches and directorates - commanding these detention facilities, those in charge of the military police, as well as their civilian superiors ... are individually criminally liable for the crimes committed," the commission's report stated.

It also accused Damascus of committing "extermination as a crime against humanity", and described how "thousands of detainees held by the Syrian government have been beaten to death or died as a result of injuries sustained due to torture".

It also found the Syrian regime guilty of murder, rape, torture and enforced disappearance.

The report, which covers the past five years since March 2011, was based on interviews with over 500 survivors and witnesses to the deaths in custody. Over 200 former government detainees witnessed one or more deaths in custody.
The commission found the Syrian regime guilty of murder, rape, torture and enforced disappearance

"Across detention facilities, interrogators or prison guards killed detainees, sometimes in front of fellow prisoners," stated the report. It also gave examples of how "interrogators and guards employed gruesome methods of torture to kill detainees".

Some deaths in government-controlled facilities were "caused by general prison conditions and lack of medical care", others through "injuries sustained during torture" or "execution without fair trial and extrajudicial killings".

The investigation also reported mass executions and torture of prisoners by the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front.

The commission made several recommendations including adopting targeted sanctions against those involved in the torture, killing or enforced disappearances of detainees in Syria.

It demanded that the Syrian regime and non-state armed groups "immediately halt all detention practices resulting in custodial deaths and torture."

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