Grant UN observers immediate access to Homs, Aleppo prisons: Rights group to Syria

Friday, July 27, 2012
New York: Human Rights Watch (HRW) today called on Syrian government to immediately grant United Nations observers full access to Homs and Aleppo central prisons to check on prisoners “who may be at risk of violent reprisals following prison riots.”

In a news release, the New York-based human rights group claimed that “Samir,” an inmate in the old section of the Homs central prison, told the organisation by phone that “a riot broke out on July 21, 2012, and that prisoners took over parts of the prison.”

In response, he said, "government forces surrounded the facility, used live rounds and teargas to attack the prisoners, and cut off food and water supplies."

According to Human Rights Watch, Samir reported at least seven deaths, including three children, and an activist reported at least three more.

Notably, the Syrian National Council, a coalition of opposition members, in a statement on July 24, said that government forces used live fire and teargas at Aleppo central prison in response to prisoner protests on July 23 and that eight people had been killed. Human Rights Watch, however, has not been able to contact anyone in Aleppo central prison.

“The uncertainty surrounding the fate of inmates in Homs and Aleppo shows the urgent need for UN monitors to get inside these prisons and publicly report on their findings,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The Syrian government should be on notice that the international community is watching, and that any violent crackdown in prisons will not go unpunished.”

She added, “Syria’s authorities have always imposed an information blackout on deadly events in its prisons. The UN Monitors should insist on access to both prisons to ensure that no such tragedies take place during their mandate.”
Next Post »