World Bulletin / News Desk
Syrian intelligence agencies are running torture centers across the country where detainees are beaten with batons and cables, burned with acid, sexually assaulted, and their fingernails torn out, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Tuesday.
The New York-based rights group identified 27 detention centers that it says intelligence agencies have been using since President Bashar al-Assad's government began a crackdown in March 2011 on pro-democracy protesters trying to oust him.
Human Rights Watch conducted more than 200 interviews with people who said they were tortured, including a 31-year-old man who was detained in the Idlib area in June and made to undress.
"Then they started squeezing my fingers with pliers. They put staples in my fingers, chest and ears. I was only allowed to take them out if I spoke. The staples in the ears were the most painful," the man told Human Rights Watch.
"They used two wires hooked up to a car battery to give me electric shocks. They used electric stun-guns on my genitals twice. I thought I would never see my family again. They tortured me like this three times over three days," he said.
The report found that tens of thousands of people had been detained by the Department of Military Intelligence, the Political Security Directorate, the General Intelligence Directorate, and the Air Force Intelligence Directorate.
Human Rights Watch documented more than 20 torture methods that "clearly point to a state policy of torture and ill-treatment and therefore constitute a crime against humanity."
The group called for the U.N. Security Council to refer the issue of Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and to adopt targeted sanctions against officials carrying out abuse.
"The reach and inhumanity of this network of torture centers are truly horrific," Ole Solvang, emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch said. "Russia should not be holding its protective hand over the people who are responsible for this."
U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay on Monday reiterated her position that the issue of Syria's conflict should be referred to the ICC in The Hague because crimes against humanity and other war crimes may have been committed.
She said both sides appear to have committed war crimes.
The United Nations has said more than 10,000 people have been killed during the 16-month Syria conflict.
The complete Human Rights Watch report, which includes maps of the detention centers, can be seen here: http://www.hrw.org/reports/2012/07/03/torture-archipelago-0
More than 50 people have died so far in the violence that has deepened fears post-war Libya is slipping into lawlessness
Russia has in the past denied it is directly involved with the rebellion in its western neighbor, but the United States and its European allies accuse Moscow of arming and encouraging the uprising
"Gaps remain between the parties, so his focus is on finding a formula that both sides can accept," said the U.S. official
Since July 7, Israel has pummeled the Gaza Strip – from air, land and sea – with the ostensible aim of halting Palestinian rocket fire.
Pools of blood lay on the ground and on students' desks in the courtyard of the school near the apparent impact mark of the shell,
More than 75,000 made the trip in the first six months of the year, landing up in Italy, Greece, Spain and Malta, the UNHCR agency said. Their number included 10,500 children
The commander of U.S. troops stationed in South Korea last month said he had proposed deploying a THAAD advanced missile-defence system to the country
A diplomat in the Malian capital Bamako said that the north of the country - which lies on the plane's likely flight path - was struck by a powerful sandstorm overnight.
Female asylum seekers with infants recently asked for bigger rooms so their children can learn to walk and crawl, as they are currently "confined in the extreme heat" in metal containers measuring 3m by 3m.
Shortly before the trial, Evans made a deal with prosecutors and admitted he had carried out more than 1,000 hacks involving some 200 victims
Ban's meeting with Shi'ite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani underscored the 83-year-old cleric's vast sway in Iraq, where Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is considered a polarising figure
The "360 degree view" will allow German intelligence officers to watch U.S. and British agents on German soil and marks a shift from the previous focus on Russians, Chinese and Iranians
"As this campaign goes on and the civilian casualties in Gaza mount, Western public opinion is becoming more and more concerned and less and less sympathetic to Israel," Hammond told Sky News
Senior Defence Ministry official Amos Gilad said: "These are not prisoners of war. These are detainees. These are not people who are recognised under international treaties. They are murderers and terrorists."
Two gunmen on a motorbike approached the aid workers' taxi and opened fire
The UK has repeatedly been told by the European court of human rights that the law banning inmates from voting breaches their rights.