Syria: tens of thousands of civilians disappeared in prisons

UN investigation accuses all parties. Rapes of 11-year-olds

02 March, 16:58

    BEIRUT - Tens of thousands of civilians remain forcibly disappeared in Syria after being arbitrarily detained since 2011, when the armed violence that devastated the country began, according to a detailed report prepared by international investigators charged by UN with shedding light on humanitarian violations in Syria in war committed by all the parties involved in the conflict.
    It said thousands more have been subject to torture or death in detention.
    Victims and witnesses described to investigators "unimaginable suffering", including the rapes of 11-year-old girls and boys.
    The report, produced by investigators of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria that was formed in 2011 on a mandate from the UN Human Rights Council, said these crimes constitute a "national trauma" that will have to be faced sooner or later.
    In 10 years of war, it is estimated that between 380,000 and 500,000 people have died in Syria, while about half of the country's 20 million residents since 2011 have had to abandon their homes as internally displaced people or refugees in countries abroad.
    The report is based on more than 2,650 interviews and investigations in more than 100 detention and prison facilities in various parts of Syria.
    The study documents violations on the part of nearly all the parties in the war.
    "The government forces’ arbitrary detention of political opponents, journalists, human rights activists and demonstrators were both a root cause and a trigger of the conflict," said Commission of Inquiry President Paulo Pinheiro.
    "Armed groups and UN-designated terrorist organizations such as Hayat Tahrir ash-Sham (HTS) and the Islamic State (ISIL) then also started depriving people of their liberty, committing heinous violations against them," he said.
    The Commission of Inquiry thus far has been unable to indicate the exact number of prisoners killed in detention, but "prudent" estimates cited in the report speak of "tens of thousands of people" killed during imprisonment.
    Many of the victims were buried in mass graves, including some on the outskirts of Damascus.

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