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Syria - Assad

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« on: December 12, 2012, 05:17:19 pm »

View from the sky on Sednaya prison in Syria.

The government imposed a total blackout on Sednaya after prison authorities and military police used firearms to quell a riot on July 5, 2008. The prison holds at least 1,500 inmates and possibly as many as 2,500.

In July 2009, the authorities finally allowed some families to visit relatives in the prison, but have maintained a ban on visits to others and on information about other detainees. The actual number of Sednaya detainees who remain completely isolated from the outside world is believed to be much higher than the 42 whose names Human Rights Watch has obtained.

“The Syrian government needs to come clean on what happened in Sednaya a year and a half ago,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Syrian authorities should end the anguish of the prisoners’ families and allow visits to all detainees.”

Some of the 42 detainees on the list who remain incommunicado have finished serving their sentences and should have been released. Others were on trial, but their trials have been delayed without explanation. One of those who should have been released is Nizar Rastanawi, a prominent human rights activist whom the state security court had sentenced to a four-year term on charges of "spreading false news" and "insulting the President of the Republic" after a member of the security services testified that he overheard a private conversation Rastanawi was having with another person. Rastanawi’s sentence ended on April 18, but the government has not released him or provided any information about him.

A detainee’s parents described to Human Rights Watch the difficulties they faced trying to get information:
We went to the prison [Sednaya] and registered our name with the prison guards. We waited there, with a baby, from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. We had to pay 2,000 Syrian pounds [$44 US] as a bribe just to register our visit request. Then the prison guards told us that our son has no right for a visit and they asked us to go see the Political Security branch in Damascus. They would not even tell us if our son was still in Sednaya or whether he was alive. To date, we are still waiting for an answer.

For the families allowed to see their detained relatives, visiting conditions are very difficult. Two families told Human Rights Watch that visits are limited to 30 minutes once a month, with a security guard standing between the prisoner and his family – who remain behind a set of metal bars. Visits are restricted to the immediate family.

Detainees released from Sednaya since July who have been contacted by Human Rights Watch or Syrian human rights activists have been afraid to discuss what happened or to provide information about other detainees. When asked about the fate of some friends who were detained with him, one released detainee told a Syrian human rights activist, “Please don’t ask me – we don’t want to go back to prison.”

To date, the government has not provided the families of detainees or the public with any information regarding the July 2008 events at Sednaya or the names of those injured or killed.

“The secrecy and fear surrounding the fate of detainees in Sednaya is a reminder of Syria’s cruel treatment of prisoners and their families alike,” Stork said.

International human rights law – including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Syria has ratified – prohibits arbitrary detention, which includes holding persons beyond the expiration of their sentence, and requires compensation for anyone who has been arbitrarily detained. The UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners require that prisoners be able to communicate with the outside world at “regular intervals.” These UN rules also allow the use of force only when absolutely necessary and require notification of relatives immediately after a prisoner’s death.

about torture in Sednaya Prison
« Last Edit: December 12, 2012, 05:35:57 pm by TD892 » Report Spam   Report to moderator   Logged

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