Syria peace conference must demand access to investigate torture allegations
‘If confirmed, these would be crimes against humanity committed on a staggering scale’ - Philip Luther
Amnesty International is urging world leaders due to meet at the “Geneva II” peace conference on Syria tomorrow to demand full access to the country to investigate allegations that 11,000 people have been tortured and killed while in Syrian government detention.
The meeting should also demand that monitors are able to inspect the conditions of detention for all prisoners in places of detention in the country.
The torture allegations, contained in a report by former war crimes prosecutors and forensic experts based on documents and thousands of still images of what appear to be the bodies of dead prisoners, have led one of the report’s authors - Sir Desmond de Silva QC - to say the report “documented industrial-scale killing”.
Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Director Philip Luther said:
“If confirmed, these would be crimes against humanity committed on a staggering scale. It certainly raises the question once again why the Security Council has not yet referred the situation in Syria to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
“Geneva II must demand the disclosure of the whereabouts and fate of all persons subjected to enforced disappearance, secret detention or abductions, including civilians, soldiers, fighters and suspected informers.
“World leaders must demand that the Commission of Inquiry and other human rights bodies be granted immediate access to all places of detention - formal and informal - in Syria.”
Amnesty is also insisting that Geneva II should act on the torture and summary killings carried out by armed opposition groups. Individuals have been targeted on the basis of their religious affiliation and perceived loyalty to the government, as have suspected informers and members and fighters belonging to rival armed opposition groups.
Last week, Amnesty urged those involved in the Geneva II conference to end the starvation of besieged civilians, which should continue to be a priority alongside the safety of detainees.
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