[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said Friday that Syrian army and security officers have been engaged in the torture of children [press release]. The allegations stem from HRW’s documentation of cases in which children were reportedly detained, tortured and shot in their homes. There are prior findings that the Syrian government has been involved in torturing and killing civilian protesters. HRW discovered that among those tortured protesters were children as young as 13. Interviews with juvenile victims and adult protesters who saw those children in detention centers confirmed HRW’s findings. Children were reportedly arrested in schools, beaten and confined in solitary cells for several weeks without adequate food supply and medical attention:
Children have not been spared the horror of Syria’s crackdown. Syrian security forces have killed, arrested, and tortured children in their homes, their schools, or on the streets. In many cases, security forces have targeted children just as they have targeted adults.
In addition to the violence against children, the Syrian government has confiscated schools and hospitals for the use of military purposes such as detention centers or sniper posts. HRW urged the UN Security Council [official website] to take action and to press the Syrian government to end the inhumane violence against children.
The Syrian government has been under severe criticism for its continued violence and its failure to stop it. Last month, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon [official profile] demanded [JURIST report] Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad [BBC backgrounder] end the violence against its own people and strive for establishing democracy. In the same month, Syria released [JURIST report] more than 500 prisoners who were accused of having participated in terrorist activities, according to its agreement with the Arab League [official website, in Arabic]. However, such release was only of the small responsibilities that Syria had to comply with and HRW criticized Syria for failure to meet the majority of these obligations. HRW and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also called for an ICC investigation [JURIST report] concerning shootings of unarmed protesters by military officials and other crimes against humanity [JURIST report].