Head of the Syrian National Commission on Detainees and Missing Persons, Yasser Al-Farhan, said that the Assad regime’s mass killings of detainees in its prisons constituted war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, adding that detainees are subjected to systematic, brutal torture.
Farhan made these remarks following the Assad regime’s sending of list of names of detainees who died while in its custody to civil registers. Farhan called on the UN to investigate the mass killings of detainees in Assad’s prisons, stressing that such acts are “disgrace to the whole world.”
Farhan pointed out that the Assad regime’s issuance of lists of names of detainees who died in detention centers without handing over the bodies and without the launch of careful, transparent investigations into these deaths confirmed that those detainees were subjected to mass and killings and brutal torture. He refuted claims by the Assad regime that those detainees died of heart attacks.
“International human rights jurisprudence states that the primary responsibility rests with the State until the death of a person in detention is proved to be of normal reasons and not the result of negligence or ill-treatment,” Farhan added.
"Therefore, all deaths must be subject to an independent, transparent and thorough investigation. Failure to conduct such investigation is enough to hold the State accountable for the death of the victims.”
Farhan stressed direct responsibility for these deaths lies with the perpetrators of these crimes and with those who gave orders or covered them up.
Farhan called on the international community to force the Assad regime to open prisons and detention centers to international bodies to ascertain the situation inside. He stressed that an international investigation should be launched into the abuses against detainees in Assad’s prisons. He called for the release of all detainees and preventing further arbitrary arrests in line with international resolutions on Syria, including the Geneva Communique of 2012 and Security Council resolution 2254.
Farhan also stressed that torture is routinely and systemically used in the prisons of the Assad regime with the aim of getting rid of all opponents, adding that tens of thousands of detainees have already died under torture in Assad’s prisons.
Moreover, Farhan pointed out that the Assad regime did not abide by international resolutions and conventions calling for the prevention of arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance, torture and ill-treatment as it continued arrests and kidnappings.
“All this is happening despite the fact that almost all UN Security Council resolutions strongly condemned arbitrary arrest of civilians, torture, physical liquidation and enforced disappearances in Syria and demanded an immediate end to these practices and the release of all arbitrarily detained persons."
The Syrian National Commission on Detainees and Missing Persons was formed by a decision of the Syrian Coalition. It works independently and in coordination with local and international human rights organizations on taking concrete measures to ensure the release of detainees and putting an end to torture and physical liquidation. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)