Amnesty Reveals Death Toll in Syrian Jails

Human rights activist group Amnesty International have said they believe at least 88 people have died from torture while in detention in Syria as the authorities continue their repression of protests.

According to a statement by Amnesty on Wednesday, official Syrian documents revealed a high number of deaths in custody linked to those involved in the ongoing popular protest between April and mid-August.

The statement said the 88 deaths represented a "significant escalation" in the number of deaths following arrest in Syria, as typically around five deaths are recorded in custody per year in the Middle East country.

“These deaths behind bars are reaching massive proportions, and appear to be an extension of the same brutal disdain for life that we are seeing daily on the streets of Syria,” said Neil Sammonds, Amnesty International’s researcher on Syria.

“The accounts of torture we have received are horrific. We believe the Syrian government to be systematically persecuting its own people on a vast scale.”

The victims recorded in the report were arrested after Syrians took to the streets en masse from March this year. Amnesty said that they were all male, and included 10 children, some as young as 13.

“Taken in the context of the widespread and systematic violations taking place in Syria, we believe that these deaths in custody may include crimes against humanity,” said Neil Sammonds.

“The response from the Security Council has been utterly inadequate so far, but it is not too late for them to take firm and legally binding action.”

Amnesty International has compiled the names of more than 1,800 people reported to have died since pro-reform protests began. Thousands of others have been arrested, with many held incommunicado at unknown locations at risk of torture or death.

All the victims are believed to have been detained because they were involved, or suspected of being involved, in the pro-reform protests.


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