Washington welcomed on Tuesday a UN report that accused the Syrian regime of committing “war crimes and crimes against humanity in the context of detention.”
Prepared by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, the report found that “the fate of tens of thousands of civilians being held in Syria’s notorious prisons or detention centers is still unclear, 10 years after the country’s civil war began.”
“We commend the UN Commission for its report documenting a decade of mass detention and torture by the Assad regime. We will continue to press for arbitrarily detained Syrians to be released consistent with UNSCR 2254, and will prioritize accountability for human rights abuses in Syria,” US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield tweeted on Tuesday.
Later at an informal high-level UN General Assembly meeting on human rights in Syria, she demanded that the status of the detainees be made public, and that the bodies of those who died be returned to their loved ones.
She denounced the “brutality” and “untold suffering” caused by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime and the “appalling atrocities” it has committed.
“The Assad regime continues to imprison tens of thousands of innocent Syrians -- women and children, the elderly, doctors and providers, journalists and human rights defenders,” she said.
The 30-page UN report, which is based on more than 2,500 interviews conducted over 10 years, reveals that the government of Syria was responsible for detention.
“Tens of thousands of people in Syria have been unlawfully deprived of their liberty at any one time”, the UN Commissioners said, adding that the warring parties have continued to mistreat detainees held in notorious detention facilities across the country, forcing them to endure unimaginable suffering.
The report concludes that this has been happening with the knowledge and acquiescence of the governments who have supported the different parties to the conflict, and calls on them to bring an end to the violations.
Despite the “staggering” wealth of evidence, almost all parties to the conflict “failed to investigate their own forces”, said Commissioner Karen Koning AbuZayd, one of the three commissioners who prepared the report.
The report will be discussed by the UN-backed Human Rights Council next March 11, as part of its current four-week session.