Torture at "reception parties" in Syrian detention facilities

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Detainees arriving at detention facilities across Syria are routinely tortured in what has come to be known as a "reception party", according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Navi Pillay condemned this rampant use of torture by Government forces and some armed opposition groups, who have been at war for more than three years.

Her condemnation follows a paper issued by her Office containing detailed testimonies from victims and witnesses.

The paper states that "men, women and children have been routinely picked up from the street, their homes and workplaces, or arrested at Government-manned checkpoints."

A 30-year-old university student described how he was beaten, had his beard pulled out, his feet burned and toenails torn off at an Air Force Intelligence facility in Hama, where he was interrogated daily for more than a month.

The paper also makes reference to cases of individuals who died in detention, in circumstances which suggest that torture was the cause.

The High Commissioner stressed that international law unequivocally prohibits the use of torture.

"In armed conflict, torture constitutes a war crime," she said, adding that when it is used in a systematic or widespread manner, it also amounts to a crime against humanity.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration: 1'20"


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