UN anti-torture meeting raises 'systematic' abuse in Syria

GENEVA- Syrian representatives stayed away from a United Nations anti-torture committee that raised allegations Wednesday of systematic and brutal abuses in the violence-wracked nation.
Committee Chairman Claudio Grossman had written to Syrian authorities to question them about reports of torture in the country where a bloody crackdown on protesters was unleashed in March 2011.

But the call for a special report on the situation went unmet and Damascus questioned the committee's authority to request the document.
"No report was received and no delegation from Syria was present," secretary Joao Nataf said.
At Wednesday's meeting, the committee highlighted reports of systematic torture in Syria, as well as summary executions, snipers picking off civilians and systematic arrests of the wounded in hospitals.
Other allegations included the torture of detainees and journalists as well as arbitrary arrests.
The reports came from inter-governmental groups, said Grossman.
Committee member Essadia Belmir said even children were being raped and tortured. She also noted that there were mass graves in Syria and efforts were being made to locate them.
Grossman said Syrian armed opposition groups had also been accused of kidnap and torture.
Syria has previously said it would not discuss the reports because they deal with "allegations" rather than "facts".
Since the March 2011 protests, observers estimate more than 12,000 people have died, including more than 900 since an April 12 ceasefire supposedly went into effect.
Syria disputes the numbers, and has said about 6,000 have died, including more than 2,000 military and security personnel.
The Committee Against Torture is holding its 48th session from May 7 to June 1 to discuss several countries' compliance with the Convention Against Torture.
All states party to the convention are required to submit regular reports to the panel of 10 independent experts which then makes recommendations.

Wednesday, May 16th 2012

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