Syrian forces torture kids: Rights group
New York - Children as young as 13 are a particular target in the "rampant" use of torture by Syrian government forces battling opposition protests, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Friday.
While the United Nations says hundreds of children have been killed in the crackdown over the past 10 months, the rights group highlighted cases of children shot in their homes or on the street, or grabbed from schools.
It documented 12 cases of children being tortured in detention centres and said many more may have suffered similar treatment.
"In many cases, security forces have targeted children just as they have targeted adults," said Lois Whitman, children’s rights director at the New York-based Human Rights Watch.
The group's report said more than 100 people who had been held by security forces "described rampant use of torture in detention centres against even the youngest detainees, even beyond the 12 cases specifically documented".
"Children, some as young as 13, reported to Human Rights Watch that officers kept them in solitary confinement, severely beat and electrocuted them, burned them with cigarettes, and left them to dangle from metal handcuffs for hours at a time, centimetres above the floor," said the report.
Three days of torture
The parents of one 13-year-old boy from Latakia said he was detained for nine days in December after being accused of burning photos of Syrian president Bashar Assad, inciting protests and vandalising security forces' cars.
Security officers burned the boy with cigarettes on his neck and hands and threw boiling water on his body, the parents were quoted as saying.
Another 13-year-old told Human Rights Watch that security forces tortured him for three days at a military security branch after he was detained in May.
He said he fell unconscious after being electrocuted on the stomach.
"When they interrogated me the second time, they beat me and electrocuted me again. The third time they had some pliers, and they pulled out my toenail," the boy was quoted as saying.
Human Rights Watch called on the UN Security Council to demand that the Syrian government end all human rights violations and co-operate with a UN Human Rights Council investigation and Arab League monitors.
The Security Council is negotiating a draft resolution condemning the bloody Syria crackdown that has been softened by Western and Arab nations in a bid to overcome Russian-led opposition.