UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Al-Hussein on Tuesday called for the release of tens of thousands of detainees held in Syria’s prisons.
Al-Hussein made the call while addressing the UN Human Rights Council.
Al-Hussein told the council that bringing perpetrators of crimes including torture to court was vital for reaching a lasting peace.
“Today in a sense the entire country has become a torture-chamber; a place of savage horror and absolute injustice.
“Ensuring accountability, establishing the truth and providing reparations must happen if the Syrian people are ever to find reconciliation and peace.
“This cannot be negotiable,’’ he told the Geneva forum at the start of a session on Syria.
He appealed to the warring sides to halt torture and executions and to free detainees or at least provide basic information: “names and localities of those in detention and the place of burial of those who have died”.
Al-Hussein lamented the fact that efforts to end “this senseless carnage” had been repeatedly vetoed, an apparent reference to Russia and China’s decisions to veto UN Security Council resolutions on several occasions since the war began.
He noted that the conflict, which has raged for six years, began when security officials detained and tortured a group of children who had daubed anti-government graffiti on a school wall in Deraa.