Syria boycotts UN torture hearing

2012-05-16 22:54

Geneva - Syria boycotted a hearing by the United Nations' main anti-torture body on Wednesday, avoiding a grilling over its crackdown on civilians during a year-old uprising.

Nobody from Syria's mission in Geneva was available to explain the absence, but an exchange of letters showed Syria had earlier complained about being treated disrespectfully by the UN Committee Against Torture.

Wednesday's session went ahead without anyone in Syria's chair and a second session scheduled for Friday, when Syria was supposed to respond to accusations, was cancelled.

The catalogue of accusations against Syria was so long that it took several minutes for the committee's chair Claudio Grossman to run through the list of categories of reported abuses.

They included the rape of boys, the use of snipers, electroshocks to the anus, forced oral sex, attacks on demonstrators being treated in hospitals, the use of heavy weapons in built up areas and summary executions.

"We've rarely if ever had evidence of the scope and detail of this routine usage in prisons," said one of the committee's vice chairpersons Felice Gaer during the session.

"While we wait for a political solution that is not forthcoming, we're seeing denials of physical integrity and of human life," said another vice chairperson Essadia Belmir. "People's dignity depends on it, as does the credibility of the entire UN system."

A UN investigative team has already accused the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of widespread human rights abuses in the crackdown against opponents and demonstrators against his government.

Assad had dismissed the accusations and blames the violence on terrorists and countries that "sow chaos" in Syria.

Allegations only

A month-old truce brokered by international mediator Kofi Annan has failed to stop the violence, which has killed more than 9 000, according to UN figures, and caused a refugee crisis in the region.

Grossman had asked Syria in November to report to the committee because of reports of "massive human rights violations (that) take place in a context of total and absolute impunity", according to correspondence published by the committee.

Syria responded on 20 Feb by saying the committee's information was "nothing more than allegations" and demanded "detailed clarification... in order to avoid wasting both our time and the committee's". Damascus said it would provide more information in a report in 2014.

On 21 March, a letter from Syria's mission in Geneva complained that Damascus had not been consulted about the date of the committee meeting and had been treated disrespectfully.

"This action is contrary to the most fundamental rules of diplomatic conduct, including in the context of the various human rights treaty bodies," the letter said.

"The committee's decision to impose a fait accompli on a sovereign state is unacceptable."

The committee is made up of a panel of experts which reports to the UN Human Rights Council, which can in turn make recommendations to the UN Security Council.

Read more on:    unhrc  |  bashar al-assad  |  syria  |  human rights  |  syria conflict  |  uprisings

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Five wrapping hacks you have to know before Christmas

Five gift wrapping hacks that will save Christmas for you!


I love summer.24

Sexiest Instagrams of 2014
Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!
Summer Survey!
Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go! - shop online today

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off the bestselling books

Save big on the most captivating reads of 2014. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


It is hard to keep some sort of balance when the natural rhythm has flown out the window. The best thing to do is try not to more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.