(19 May, 2010 – Geneva, Damascus) The UN Committee against Torture (CAT), after its first review of Syria, has concluded that there are “numerous, ongoing, and consistent allegations concerning the routine use of torture by law enforcement and investigative officials, at their instigation or with their consent, in particular, in detention facilities.”
During its review at the CAT from 3-4 May, the Syrian delegation showed a lack of willingness to cooperate with the committee by limiting its presentation to technical details, failing to provide the Committee with important information, and omitting widespread and systematic human rights violations occurring throughout Syria, including the use of torture.
The expert committee raised many serious concerns and made recommendations including with regards to the crucial issues of torture, ill treatment, deaths in custody, and incommunicado detention, particularly of people belonging to the Kurdish minority. Legal provisions that allow men to escape prosecution for rape if they marry their victims; high numbers of enforced disappearance, as well as the disappearances of members of Muslim Brotherhood and those that occurred during the military presence of Syria in Lebanon since early 1970s; and the lack of redress, compensation, and rehabilitation for torture victims, were also dealt with by the committee.
The CAT expressed particular concern that torture takes place with impunity provided by the Emergency Law which attributes broad emergency powers to various branches of the security forces outside any judicial control. According to the committee experts, the State of Emergency has taken on a “quasi permanent nature and allows the suspension of fundamental rights and freedoms.”
“The systematic use of torture in Syria is due to the State of Emergency, which has been in place for 47 years. There will be no effective fight against torture without repeal of the Emergency Law,” said Radwan Ziadeh, Director of the Damascus Centre for Human Rights Studies, who attended the session.
FIDH, CIHRS, DCHR and its partners welcome the strong recommendations of the Committee against Torture, and call on the Syrian authorities to take effective measures to implement them, as a first step towards addressing the grave human rights situation in Syria.
CIHRS – Jeremie Smith +41 (0) 767 172 477
FIDH – Julie Gromellon +41 (0) 22 700 12 88
DCHRS – Radwan Ziadeh +1 571 205 3590
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