UN committe against torture reports on al-Assad’s abuses; Germany punts on Syria—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #38 (April 16)

News Item

“Committee Against Torture Convenes Extraordinary Meeting on Situation in Syria,” UN Watch. May 16, 2012.


“The Chairman stressed that the Committee is deeply concerned about the appalling situation in Syria, based on information from UN bodies and other inter-governmental sources. He listed some of Syria’s violations:

•Killing of civilians;
•Joint operations conducted by military and security forces who had shoot-to-kill orders, and numerous summary executions by security forces;
•The use of live ammunition against peaceful demonstrators and disproportionate means of crowd control including snipers, tanks, and heavy machine guns mounted on anti-personnel carriers and helicopters in urban areas;
•Use by security forces of rocket-propelled grenades and grenade launchers on AK47s in other areas;
•Regular raids by security forces on hospitals to search for and kill injured demonstrators;
•Widespread attempts to cover up killings by the security forces, including the use of mass graves;
•Systematic and widespread torture of detainees;
•Security forces were reported to break into homes and beat civilians including women and children and conduct mass arrests followed by transportation of people in buses and trucks to secret detention centers including public stadiums, where torture and inhuman treatment took place;
•Injured people taken to military hospitals were tortured and beaten during interrogation;
•Numerous methods of torture, including, severe beating with batons and cables, forcing detainees into stress positions for hours or even days in a row, electroshocks, and deprivation of food, water and sleep;
•Detainees were often put into overcrowded cells and forced to take turns to sleep; Many were blindfolded and sometimes handcuffed, then forced to thumb-sign written confessions of crimes that, at best, were read to them by an officer;
•Detention and torture of journalists and web activists for reporting on demonstrations;
•Arbitrary arrests;
•Sexual torture used on male detainees – men were routinely forced to undress and remain naked, beatings of genitals, forced oral sex, electroshocks and cigarette burns to the anus in detention facilities, anal rape with batons and rape of boys;
•Cases of the disappearance and torture of children under 18 years old;
•Obstruction and denial of medical assistance to the injured and sick and the systematic arrest and torture of wounded patients in State hospitals;
•Individuals suspected by the Government of setting up and operating alternative medical care or providing medical supplies were also subjected to arrest and torture by the security forces.

“Other Committee members commented on the situation. Some referred to the heinous misuse of hospitals as centers of torture and security forces dressing up as doctors then torturing injured patients; the detention and torture of journalists; the use of torture as an open weapon in Syria; the impunity of the security forces; the obligations on the international community’s responsibility to protect; and the need for a fact-based dialogue with the State party in which it could prove the falsity of allegations, as it claimed.”

Germany’s response to the terror in Syria: It will send 10 observers to join UNSMIS.

Germany has now done its part in responding to the crimes against humanity and war crimes of Bashar al-Assad. They have by cabinet decision decided to send 10 observers to join the UNSMIS mission in Syria.

“Kabinettsbeschluss: Berlin schickt zehn Militärbeobachter nach Syrien,” Der Spiegel, 16 Mai 2012.

Now they don’t have to think about Syria again, at least for a while.

Unfortunately, by contributing to the UNSMIS monitoring team, Germany like other countries has given it more life, without bothering to engage the frontal cortex before doing so.

The mindless momentum of bureacratic behavior and routines lurches forward. The Germans are contributing to a process which will keep al-Assad and his fellow war criminals in power.

At least until Lebanon and the whole region blow up.

In dealing with the real security issues of the world, aside from Afghanistan, Germany has shown that it is irrelevant.

Its leadership on Libya long forgotten, Europe is irrelevant.

And the world will reap a whirlwind.

The Trenchant Observer


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About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.