Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (18 August):
I am greatly concerned by the recent report by Amnesty International on the situation in prisons operated by the Syrian regime, which documents the systematic attack on the civilian population as part of a state policy that constitutes a crime against humanity.
Torture, abuse, sexual violence and barring access to medical care, as well as the use of hunger as a weapon, are everyday forms of the regime’s warfare. Hundreds of thousands of randomly selected civilians, often women and minors, have been made to suffer torture in the country’s government detention facilities. This had already been documented by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic of the United Nations Human Rights Council in its report, published in February 2016, on deaths in Syrian prisons. Amnesty International has put the spotlight on this brutal system of torture once more in its report published today entitled “It breaks the human. Torture, Disease and Death in Syria’s Prisons”.
This shows once again how urgently we need channels of communication in order to put an end to these grave human rights violations. The release of all those who have been arbitrarily detained by the Syrian regime is a non-negotiable right. This is an indispensable precondition for any political settlement and must not be allowed to become a bargaining chip. The work of courageous activists – who sometimes put their own lives on the line in the process – to document these crimes is of inestimable value, and I hold their contribution in the highest regard.