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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Rights Group Details Torture of Syrian Detainees

Selah Hennessy | London March 14, 2012

Dozens of Syrians say they were abused or tortured in detention, according to a new report published Wednesday by the rights group Amnesty International.

Amnesty interviewed dozens of Syrians in Jordan, where they had arrived from Syria. Nineteen people gave accounts of how they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated while held in Syrian detention before crossing the border.

Maha Abu Shama was a researcher on the report. She says many detainees described how they were beaten when they were arrested and later after arriving at detention centers. During interrogation, she says they were subjected to a range of torture techniques.

"We have observed that there is a clear pattern in the way that torture is taking place that is consistent across various regions of the country," said the researcher.

Amnesty International says Syrian authorities are responsible for the abuse, which the authorities deny. The government says it is battling armed terrorist groups.

Amnesty's report details a range of torture techniques it alleges the authorities are using.

"Several of our detainees mentioned to us that they were subjected to electrical shocks, either by using electrical sticks or probes on their hands or by having electrical shocks to the water around them, or they were splashed with water and then electrocuted," said Abu Shama.

Abu Shama says the level of torture is reminiscent of Syria during the leadership of former president Hafez al-Assad, the father of Syria’s current leader. The family has ruled Syria for more than four decades.

"Survivals of torture have described to us 31 methods of torture, some of which have not been used or have rarely been used over the last few years and now they have come back," she said. "So the level of torture has risen to an extent that is similar to that in the eighties under the former president Hafez al-Assad, which was an era known for torture and other ill treatment."

Amnesty calls on the international community to defend human rights in Syria and investigate violations.

It urges the U.N. Security Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court to investigate human rights offenses.

The United Nations is to deploy human rights monitors to the states that border Syria in order to investigate alleged atrocities.

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