Syria's Assad Targets Children for Detention and Torture

March 29, 2012

Syrian refugee children fleeing the violence in their country gather at a partially set up camp near Jordan's northern border. © KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty Images

It’s almost unbelievable, a government targeting children in an attempt to repress popular uprisings.

The latest reports from the BBC that Syrian children are being targeted for detention and torture are shocking but coincide with evidence Amnesty researchers uncovered in a recent mission to the region.

According to UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay, these actions against children seem “systematic and targeted” and are being carried out by Assad’s security forces:

“They’ve gone for the children, for whatever purpose, in large numbers – hundreds detained and tortured.

I’ve seen some of the evidence…It’s just horrendous: children shot in the knees, held together with adults in really inhumane conditions – denied medical treatment for their injuries, either held as hostages or held as sources of information – or just the sheer brutality of this whole clampdown.”

Amnesty researchers documented torture of children in Syria in “‘I wanted to die’: Syria’s torture survivors speak out,” published earlier this month, and “Deadly Detention,” an August 2011 report that documented 10 victims under the age of 18 who had died in custody in Syria (out of 88 total cases).

To reveal the full extent of human rights violations in Syria, human rights monitors must be permitted inside the country to report on the abuses. In response to the recent acceptance of a UN peace plan by predident Bashar al-Assad, we are calling on the Arab League to ensure that any UN mission depoloyed to Syria includes human rights monitors.

We also continue to call upon Russia, one of Syria’s fiercest allies, to stop selling weapons to Syria in the face of flagrant human rights abuses. Join the hundreds of thousands of Amnesty supporters who have spoken out against human rights abuses in Syria – tell Russia to stop providing military support to Syria immediately.