UN panel concerned at torture of children in Syria

UN panel concerned at torture of children in Syria New York: A UN panel on Friday voiced deep concern about human rights violations in Syria, including the reported torture of children, as President Bashar Al Assad's government continues its crackdown against protesters.

The UN Committee against Torture has reviewed "numerous, consistent and substantiated" reports and information about widespread rights violations in the country, a UN statement said. The violations include cases of torture and ill-treatment of detainees; rife or systematic attacks against civilian population, including the killing of peaceful demonstrators and the use of excessive of force against them; and the persecutions of human rights defenders and activists.

"Of particular concern are reports referring to children who have suffered torture and mutilation while detained, as well as cases of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, arbitrary detention by police forces and the military, and enforced and involuntary disappearances," said Claudio Grossman, who heads the 10-member expert panel.

Over 3,500 people have died in Syria since protests began in the country against Assad's rule early this year.

The Committee said it is alarmed by the fact that these reports of massive human rights violations are occurring amid "total and absolute impunity," as thorough and impartial investigations have not been undertaken in such cases.

"These generalised abuses are allegedly conducted under direct orders from public authorities, at their instigation or with their consent or acquiescence," Grossman said.

The Committee is tasked with monitoring the implementation of the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which has been ratified by 149 States, including Syria.

It requested the Syrian government to provide it with a special report by March 9, 2012 that indicates the measures it is taking to ensure effective implementation of the Convention, as well as information on the events occurring in the country the Committee has referred to.

The expert panel will review the special report during its next session in May 2012.