Tens of thousands of detainees still missing, UN says

Tens of thousands of detainees still missing, UN says
UN investigators say the detentions are intended to intimidate and punish perceived opponents. Source: AFP
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Daily US Times: Investigators of the United Nations say tens of thousands of civilians are still missing after being detained arbitrarily during 10 years of civil war in Syria.

According to a new report detailing alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity by all parties, thousands more have been tortured or killed in custody, while many missing.

Witnesses and victims described “unimaginable suffering”, including the rape of girls and boys as young as 11.

The issue is a “national trauma” that must be addressed, the UN report says.

Syria has been devastated by a conflict that erupted after President Bashar al-Assad’s government responded with deadly force to peaceful anti-government protests in March 2011.

The fighting has cost at least 380,000 lives and caused half the population to flee their homes, including almost six million refugees abroad.

The report was made by the UN Human Rights Council’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria. It was based on more than 2,650 interviews and investigations into more than 100 detention facilities.

The report documents violations by almost every major party to the Syrian war that were apparently intended to intimidate and punish perceived opponents.

The commission’s chairman, Paulo Pinheiro, said: “The government forces’ arbitrary detention of political opponents, journalists, human rights activists and demonstrators were both a root cause and a trigger of the conflict.”

Former detainees described not seeing sunlight for months, being forced to eat mouldy food, drink unclean water and sharing overcrowded cells without a toilet with hundreds of other people, and being denied medical care.

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