Torture a U.N. concern in Syria

Feb. 21, 2012 at 12:59 PM
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GENEVA, Switzerland, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Human rights activists in Syria face a risk of being tortured by Syrian authorities, U.N. rights officials said Tuesday.

The United Nations said several human rights activists were arrested last week in a raid on the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression. The United Nations described the center as a "prominent" rights organization that "enjoys U.N. consultative status."

A statement from U.N. envoys working on human rights and freedom of expression voiced concern that the activists would be subjected to torture at the hands of Syrian forces.

"The Syrian authorities should end all acts of harassment against human rights defenders and release all those arbitrarily arrested and detained," the statement read.

The rights advocates in custody were arrested Feb. 16, the same day the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution condemning Syria's crackdown on opposition forces.

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross called for a daily two-hour cease-fire to deliver humanitarian assistance in areas affected by the violence in Syria.

"The current situation requires an immediate decision to implement a humanitarian pause in the fighting," said ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger.

"In Homs and in other affected areas, entire families have been stuck for days in their homes, unable to step outside to get bread, other food or water or to obtain medical care."

Homs is one of the cities hit hardest by Syrian forces.

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