Saturday, May 15, 2010

UN Committee against Torture – highlights

Newaf Abdul Baqi med

Members of the UN Committee against Torture met with representatives of human rights groups and organisations, on 3 and 4 May 2010 in Geneva to discuss the Syrian Government’s behaviour since signing up for the Convention against Torture in 2004. The Syrian Government sent its representatives to answer questions.

Newaf Khalil and Abdul-Baqi Assa’d attended as representatives of International Support Kurds in Syria Association – SKS. They listened to the evidence that was given by the Syrian Government and they had talks with UN Committee members and other human rights groups about the abuses of Kurds in Syria.

Our report can be found here:

The Un report that came from these meetings can be found here:

International Support Kurds in Syria Association – SKS would like to thank the UN for holding the Syrian Government to account for its actions.

Some points raised in the UN final report:

8. The Committee is deeply concerned at numerous reports of torture, ill-treatment, death in custody and incommunicado detention of people belonging to the Kurdish minority, in large part stateless, in particular political activists of Kurdish origins. The Committee is further concerned that convictions to some Kurdish detainees pronounced by military courts have been passed on vague charges of “weakening national sentiment” or “spreading false of exaggerated information”. Moreover, the Committee notes with concern reports of growing trend of deaths of Kurdish conscripts who have died whilst carrying out their mandatory military service and whose bodies were returned to the families with evidence of severe injuries (arts. 1, 2, 12 and 16).
The State party should take urgent measures to ensure prompt, thorough, impartial and effective investigation into all allegations of torture, ill-treatment, death in custody, death during military service and incommunicado detention of people belonging to the Kurdish minority, in particular of political activists of Kurdish origins, and to prosecute and punish law enforcement, security, intelligence and prison officials who carried out, ordered or acquiesced in such practices. Furthermore, the State party should amend or abolish the vague security provisions under the Syrian Criminal Code that unlawfully restrict the right to freedom of expression, association or assembly.

The Syrian Government should amend its legislation:

  • to adopt a definition of torture in full conformity with article 1 of the Convention
  • to ensure that acts of torture are offenses under criminal law and are punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account the grave nature of these acts, as required by article 4, paragraph 2 of the Convention
  • to ensure that the principle of the absolute prohibition of torture is incorporated in its legislation, and ensure its strict application, in accordance with article 2, paragraph 2, of the Convention
  • rescind the decrees legalizing immunity for crimes committed on duty, resulting in practice in impunity for acts of torture committed by members of security services, intelligence agencies and police. adoption of a specific law against trafficking in persons which determines the crimes and adequate penalties and foresees adoption of measures to facilitate rehabilitation and social integration of victims of human trafficking.

There are many more changes required by the Syrian Government to address concerns arising about detention, care of detainees, torture, the standards and lack of impartiality of trials, lack of freedom of speech, deaths of Kurdish conscripts in the Army, domestic abuse if women and forced marriages, children in detention.

The State party is invited to submit its next periodic report, which will be the second report, by 14 May 2014. [This report from the Syrian Government was five years late].

The Committee request the State party to provide, within a year, information on its response to the Committee’s recommendations contained in paragraphs 15, 24, 25 and 35.