Wed, 28 Dec 2011 09:38 - Updated Wed, 28 Dec 2011 09:32
Syria hiding detainees from observers
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Syria - Human Rights Watch has accused Syria's regime of hiding hundreds of detainees held in its crackdown on dissent from Arab observers visiting the country to assess implementation of a peace deal.
"Syrian authorities have transferred perhaps hundreds of detainees to off-limits military sites to hide them from Arab League monitors now in the country," HRW said late Tuesday.
"The Arab League should insist on full access to all Syrian sites used for detention, consistent with its agreement with the Syrian government," the global watchdog said in a statement.
On Tuesday, a group of Arab League observers visited the besieged protest hub of Homs in central Syria, where the UN estimates more than 5,000 people have been killed in the crackdown since mid-March.
And the New York-based HRW cited a Syrian security officer in Homs as saying that he received orders from his prison director to assist with irregular detainee transfers.
The orders, he said, came after President Bashar al-Assad's government signed an Arab League protocol on ending violence on December 19, giving the observers access to places where detainees might be held.
"He estimated that on December 21 and 22 approximately 400 to 600 detainees were moved out of his detention facility to other places of detention," HRW said in the statement posted on its website.