Zeid: Syria has become a torture chamber

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Onboard an Italian ship, a Syrian father holds his one-year-old son as they wait to be checked by doctors. They were rescued in the middle of the Mediterranean. Photo: UNHCR/A. D’Amato

The seven-year war in Syria has turned the country into a torture chamber.

That's the grim message from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.

He was speaking at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, where he said that there are "very probably" tens of thousands of people still being held inside the war-torn country.

Daniel Johnson has more.

UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein told the Human Rights Council in Geneva that the spark for the Syrian conflict had been the detention and torture of children who'd daubed anti-government graffiti on the walls of a school in Daraa.

Seven years on, those same abuses have spread everywhere in Syria, he continued:

"Today, in a sense the entire country has become a torture-chamber: a place of savage horror and absolute injustice."

The Syrian conflict has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions, a situation that Zeid described as the "worst man-made disaster the world has seen since World War II".

Despite this, repeated vetoes in the UN Security Council have "pushed back hope" for an end to the carnage, the UN rights chief said.

This despite the abduction and sale of Yezidi girls and women as sexual slaves by ISIL terrorists, and the "desperate appeals" of the people of Aleppo – who suffered aerial bombardment as government forces regained control late last year.

Ensuring accountability for crimes remains key, Zeid insisted, and he said his office was moving "as fast as possible" to set up an international mechanism to judge those responsible, in line with the wishes of a UN General Assembly resolution in December.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1’14″


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