The top UN human rights official called on Tuesday for tens of thousands of detainees to be released from Assad’s prisons and for torturers and executioners to be brought to justice as part of a lasting peace.
“Today in a sense the entire country has become a torture-chamber; a place of savage horror and absolute injustice,” said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein. He said it is the worst man-made disaster since World War II.
Hussein cited the arrest and torture by members of the Assad regime security apparatus of a group of children for scrawling anti-regime graffiti on the walls of their school in Dara’a city back in 2011.
Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, noted that its 2016 report found that the scale of deaths in the prisons of the Assad regime indicated that it was responsible for “extermination as a crime against humanity.”
“Too many voices have been silenced by enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention, or death,” Pinheiro said.
Last week, more than 150 experts, diplomats, rights activists, and international lawyers discussed progress in setting up an independent database to store and analyze evidence of war crimes in Syria.
They urged the United Nations to boost efforts to create the database of war crimes in Syria, using evidence smuggled abroad by refugees and investigators.
“After six years of conflict in Syria, the evidence of war crimes, human rights violations and crimes against humanity is overwhelming,” Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said before the experts met behind closed doors in The Hague.
Koenders said he wanted to see the perpetrators face justice in The Hague, denouncing the “culture of impunity” prevailing in Syria. “If justice is our goal, then we cannot sit back and wait until the war ends,” he added. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)