William Hague horror at Human Rights Watch report on Syria

 

Foreign Secretary William Hague said a report by Human Rights Watch that identified torture and atrocities in Syria sounded a clear warning that there was “no hiding place” for those responsible for such crimes.

The rights organisation has carried out more than 200 interviews since the beginning of anti-government demonstrations in the country in March last year.

Accounts from former detainees and defectors have identified the locations, agencies responsible, torture methods used and, in many cases, the commanders in charge of 27 detention facilities run by Syrian intelligence agencies.

Human Rights Watch said the systematic patterns of ill-treatment and torture it had documented clearly pointed to a "state policy of torture and ill-treatment", which constituted "a crime against humanity".

Mr Hague said the UK would work with EU partners to impose sanctions on those responsible to help bring an end to the violence.

The report, Torture Archipelago: Arbitrary Arrests, Torture and Enforced Disappearances in Syria's Underground Prisons since March 2011, includes maps locating detention centres, video accounts from former detainees and sketches of torture techniques described by people who witnessed or experienced torture in the facilities.

Almost all the former detainees interviewed by Human Rights Watch said they had been subjected to torture or witnessed the torture of others during their detention.

Interrogators, guards, and officers used a broad range of torture methods, including prolonged beatings, often with objects such as batons and cables, holding the detainees in painful stress positions for prolonged periods of time, the use of electricity, burning with acid, sexual assault and humiliation, the pulling of fingernails, and mock execution.

Human Rights Watch documented more than 20 distinct torture methods used by the security and intelligence services.

A 31-year-old detainee who was held in Idlib governorate in June described to Human Rights Watch how the intelligence agencies tortured him in the Idlib Central Prison.

He said: "They forced me to undress. Then they started squeezing my fingers with pliers.

"They put staples in my fingers, chest and ears. I was only allowed to take them out if I spoke. The staples in the ears were the most painful.

"They used two wires hooked up to a car battery to give me electric shocks. They used electric stun-guns on my genitals twice. I thought I would never see my family again. They tortured me like this three times over three days."

While most of the torture victims interviewed by Human Rights Watch were young men between 18 and 35, the victims interviewed also included children, women, and the elderly.

Ole Solvang, emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: "The intelligence agencies are running an archipelago of torture centres scattered across the country.

"By publishing their locations, describing the torture methods, and identifying those in charge we are putting those responsible on notice that they will have to answer for these horrific crimes."

Human Rights Watch called on the United Nations Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and to adopt targeted sanctions against officials credibly implicated in the abuses.

Commenting on the report, Mr Hague said: "I welcome today's report by Human Rights Watch on the situation in Syria.

"It highlights the horror of what is happening. The scale of the barbaric acts that are being carried out by the regime against the population is appalling.

"This Human Rights Watch report should act as a clear warning. There should be no impunity or hiding place for those committing these crimes.

"Those responsible for systematic and widespread human rights violations should not delude themselves: we and our international partners will do everything we can to ensure that they will face justice.

"Where we have evidence of individuals' responsibility for acts of violence and repression, the UK will work with EU partners to impose sanctions on them.

"We will continue to focus attention on what is happening in Syria and work to bring an end to the violence."

PA

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

How Etsy became a crafty little earner

The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

Don't fear the artichoke

Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
11 best men's socks

11 best men's socks

Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

Paul Scholes column

Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

Frank Warren's Ringside

Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

Khorasan is back in Syria

America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

On the campaign trail with Ukip

Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

Expect a rush on men's tights

Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

In the driving seat: Peter Kay

Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road