Rights group accuses Syria of hiding detainees from monitors
Syrian authorities have moved perhaps hundreds of detainees to military sites to hide them from Arab League monitors assessing whether the government is upholding a commitment to end its crackdown on protesters, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.
“Syria has shown it will stop at nothing to undermine independent monitoring of its crackdown,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Syria’s subterfuge makes it essential for the Arab League to draw clear lines regarding access to detainees, and be willing to speak out when those lines are crossed.”
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem told The Independent last week that the international monitors could move around the country “under the protection” of the government but would not be permitted to visit sensitive military sites.
HRW said it was told by a Syrian security officer in Homs that his prison director had ordered him to transfer about 400 to 600 detainees from his detention facility to other places.
“The transfers happened in installments,” the official said, according to HRW. “Some detainees were moved in civilian jeeps and some in cargo trucks. My role was inside the prison, gathering the detainees and putting them in the cars. My orders from the prison director were to move the important detainees out,” the official said, according to HRW.
He said that officials told him the detainees were being taken to a military missile factory in Zaidal, outside of Homs.
Other witnesses corroborated his account, HRW said.