Report Accuses Assad Regime of “Systematic Killing” of Detainees

By:  Warren Mass
Report Accuses Assad Regime of “Systematic Killing” of Detainees

Three international aid agencies issued a report on January 21 claiming that the Syrian government is responsible for the “systematic killing” of approximately 11,000 detainees held in Syrian jails. 

The report was compiled by three international lawyers who are former prosecutors at international criminal tribunals: Sir Desmond de Silva QC, former chief prosecutor of the special court for Sierra Leone; Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, the former lead prosecutor of former Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic; and Professor David Crane, who indicted President Charles Taylor of Liberia at the Sierra Leone court. The team prepared the report for the London law firm Carter-Ruck and Co. The agencies requesting the information are the International Committee of the Red Cross, various United Nations bodies, and Human Rights Watch. 

Among the first media outlets to obtain the report were the U.K. Guardian and CNN.

One senior official from an international body told The Guardian, on condition of anonymity, “All I know after years of trying to get access is that this is likely to eventually shock the world. What we have seen in the [war crimes lawyers’] report broadly reflects what we have pieced together over the past few years.”

The Guardian reported that most of the 55,000 photos of the victims’ bodies contained in the report were shot by one official photographer, but many other photographers are attached to security units elsewhere in the country and are also likely to have been asked to provide photographic evidence.

The newspaper noted that since the uprisings began in March 2011, security units from Military Intelligence, Air Force Intelligence, and Political Security branches have detained large numbers of citizens and members of opposition fighting groups, especially in areas held by opposition fighting groups. 

Some who have been released from detention facilities have told The Guardian and international investigators about the widespread use of summary executions.

(To access a PDF of the report, click here.)

Members of the investigative team included the three lawyers and a photographer with the Syrian military police (identified only as “Caesar” for security reasons) who worked secretly with a Syrian opposition group and later defected and fled the country. The report said that “Caesar” had, “during the course of his work, smuggled out some tens of thousands of images of corpses so photographed by his colleagues and himself.”

Click here to read the entire article.

Photo of Assad's troops arresting a member of the Free Syrian Army: AP Images

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