The Syrian government is systematically exterminating detainees, the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] reported [text, PDF] Monday. The report details [press release] that thousands of detainees held by the Syrian government have been beaten or have died as a result of injuries sustained due to torture. Many other detainees have reportedly perished as a consequence of inhumane living conditions and deprivation of medical care to treat rape, sexual violence and other brutal acts. The report states that these purposeful killings and allowed deaths have occurred with frequency over a long period of time, in numerous locations controlled by Syria, and supported by state funds. Anti-government forces have also held political prisoners in makeshift prisons under inhumane conditions and have summarily executed government soldiers.
The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups first began protesting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and the increasingly bloody nature of the conflict has put pressure on the international community to intervene. In November Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] released a report stating that the practice of caging captured soldiers and civilians constitutes hostage-taking [JURIST report] and an outrage against their personal dignity. In October France opened a torture investigation [JURIST report] into the actions of the Syrian government under Assad in detention facilities. Additionally, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] released a report [JURIST report] in October detailing the possibility of war crimes in Syria. The AI report criticized the Syrian government by stating that “they have maintained unlawful sieges, restricted humanitarian assistance deliveries, deliberately attacked civilians, and carried out indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, arbitrary detentions, abductions and enforced disappearances.”