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Recently Released Video Appears to Show Evidence of Torture at Hands of Syria’s Medical Professionals

March 2012

Recent news reports state that the UN special rapporteur on torture has said a video showing evidence of torture within Syrian hospitals, “is consistent with what my mandate (office) has been receiving over the last several months.” This documentation of gruesome attacks on injured patients, apparently captured on film by a hospital employee, is further evidence of the brutality unleashed on civilians by the Syrian government.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has documented the Syrian government’s assault on the country’s medical community and its patients, which has included denying medical treatment for injured civilians, arresting and torturing doctors and patients, and attacking and misusing health care facilities.

This new evidence that Syria’s state-run hospitals may have been turned into torture chambers is another chilling development in President Assad’s unrelenting crackdown on civilian protesters.

PHR condemns any act of torture, including acts committed by medical professionals who are bound to “do no harm.” These alleged acts of torture violate medical professionals’ ethical obligations to always act in the patient’s best interest and to deliver medical care in a compassionate manner that respects human dignity.

Those in the medical community must not use their positions in the health care field to commit abuses. PHR stands in solidarity with the health care workers who denounce torture and who risk their lives to bring information about human rights abuses to the attention of the international community.

Last week’s statement from the UN Security Council as well as last month’s General Assembly resolution demonstrate the international community’s growing concern with the situation in Syria and the global consensus that all attacks on civilians must cease immediately.

PHR calls for stronger measures, including a referral of Syria by the Security Council to the International Criminal Court. Such a referral would be an essential step to bring accountability to Syrian leaders who have committed crimes against humanity. The international community should continue to focus on avenues to accountability for all those responsible for heinous attacks on civilians.

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