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The New Arab

54 people die under torture in Syria last month

A defected military photographer leaked tens of thousands of photos of tortured prisoners [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 February, 2016

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Fifty-four people were killed by brutal torture mainly at the hands of Syrian regime during January, reported a rights group on Tuesday.

Fifty-four people were killed in Syria as a result of torture last month, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights.

The report said that 54 deaths occurred under torture at the hands of the regime, while one person died under interrogation by Kurdish forces.

According to the report that largest number of victims came from Deraa, with eleven people dead, while ten people were killed from the Damascus countryside.

Among the dead were three engineers, three university students and a paramedic.

"Most of the families of the detainees only have access to information about detained relatives by paying a bribe to government officials," said Fadel Abdul Ghani, manager of the network.

"Often Syrian authorities do not hand over the bodies to the parents and often they are afraid to receive the bodies of their relatives and their personal belongings from military hospitals for fear of arrest," he said.

"This huge number – which is a minimum – of the victims of torture per month shows unequivocally that torture is a systematic policy stemming from the head of the regime and constitutes crimes against humanity and war crimes."

The SNHR has explained most of the information comes from former detainees or families of the victims.

A defected photographer codenamed Caesar, who was working for the regime taking photos of corpses of prisoners, told of the anguish that Syrian families face while attempting to track down their loved ones.

"When a father seeks to learn the whereabouts of his detained son, about whom he has heard nothing for months, he would try to meet an officer, an agent in an intelligence agency or a lawyer close to the regime. If they blackmail him while promising to release [his son] but did not deliver or lied because the son is dead, what would the father be able to do in this situation? Complain to the authorities?” he wrote.

"He would be told: 'You are looking for information about a terrorist? Then you are a terrorist too. You have raised your son to be a terrorist. You too must go to prison.' The agents also cover for one another."

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