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Amnesty: Syria executed thousands of prisoners over 5-year period

[JURIST] The Syrian government has hanged more than 13,000 prisoners [press release] in extrajudicial executions over a five-year period at Saydnaya prison, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported Monday. The report [text, PDF] says that the hangings occurred with alarming frequency, with up to 50 people hanged at a time at least once a week in the middle of the night. Further, it is believed that many more prisoners have died due to insufficient food, water and medical care. The report also details the military trials used to determine guilt or innocence. These trials reportedly often last one or two minutes, and are often based on confessions made by prisoners under torture. An AI spokesperson urged the UN Security Council [official website] to intervene, saying "it cannot turn a blind eye to these horrible crimes. ... The UN must immediately demand an independent investigation into these grave violations of international law."

Extrajudicial killings by government actors around the world has been a serious concern for human rights groups in recent months. Last week Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] and AI both criticized [JURIST report] the Philippines government for extrajudicial killings used as part of the fight against drugs in that nation. The International Criminal Court [official website] also expressed concern [JURIST report] in October over extrajudicial killings committed by the government of the Philippines. In January senior Israeli politicians allegedly called [JURIST report] for Israeli police to kill Palestinians suspected of harming Israelis. In July HRW alleged [JURIST report] that Brasil officials had failed to take sufficient action to stop extrajudicial killings performed by police officers leading up to the Summer Olympics.

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