Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Syria
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
as delivered by Jason Mack
Thank you, Mr. President,
We welcome the important work of the Commission of Inquiry. This work has been critical in focusing attention on egregious human rights violations and abuses, as well as serious violations of the law of armed conflict, of which the Syrian government remains the primary perpetrator. We particularly appreciate the Commission’s objective analysis of the situation in contrast to some States’ farcical efforts to propagandize attacks on innocent civilians as so-called liberation from terror.
We call attention to the Commission’s thorough documentation of the massive, methodical nature of deaths in State-controlled detention facilities, which the Commission concludes are crimes against humanity.
An estimated 215,000 civilians have been detained since the conflict began – nearly all of these are government-held political prisoners. Torture and killings by Syrian officials continue in notorious facilities, including Branches 215, 227, 235, 248, 251, 291, Air Force Intelligence Investigation Branch Mezzeh, and Saydnaya prison, and in Tishreen and Harasta military hospitals. We believe the regime built a crematorium to dispose of evidence of mass killings in Saydnaya.
The Commission has reported that the government punishes civilians by attacking medical facilities and personnel treating civilians. According to Physicians for Human Rights, the government has attacked at least 454 medical facilities since the conflict began, killing at least 796 medical personnel.
The UN reports that the regime and supporters continue to obstruct humanitarian access to besieged and hard-to-reach areas for some 624,500 people in dire need of life-saving assistance, including within the areas outlined in the so-called de-escalation areas the Astana co-guarantors have proposed.. Life-saving medical supplies are removed consistently from approved convoys, including supplies for 37,000 people in April alone. Those responsible for these and other violations and abuses must be held accountable.
Question: Commission members: can you tell us how pervasive torture is in government detention facilities?