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UN rights panel asks Syria for report on child torture allegations

The UN Committee Against Torture [official website] expressed concern Friday over allegations of human rights violations in Syria, including the torture of children, and requested a report addressing these matters. Claudio Grossman, who currently heads the committee, said [press release]: "Of particular concern are reports referring to children who have suffered torture and mutilation while detained; as well as cases of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; arbitrary detention by police forces and the military; and enforced and involuntary disappearances." The committee is composed of 10 members and is tasked with ensuring that countries comply with the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [text], which Syria ratified in 1988. The requested report, which is due to the committee by March 9, requires Syria to outline the ways in which it is in compliance with the obligations of the Convention as well as provide information on the events that are currently taking place in the country.

Earlier this month, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] announced that the death toll of Syrian protesters had exceeded 3,500 [JURIST report] despite the recent signing of a peace plan sponsored by the League of Arab States [official website, in Arabic]. In the week prior to the announcement, approximately 60 people were killed by military and security personnel, included 19 people who were killed during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. Spokesperson for the OHCHR, Ravina Samdasani, said, "we are deeply concerned about the situation and by the Government's failure to take heed of international and regional calls for an end to the bloodshed." Additionally, while the Syrian government announced that 553 prisoners would be released, tens of thousands of prisoners remain in detention as dozens of protesters continue to be arrested each day. This announcement followed what have been some of the deadliest clashes of a movement that began in Syria last March [JURIST report].

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