Numerous reports and recent news confirmed that torture and maltreatment of detainees remain common practice in all detention centres and prisons, particular Palestine Branch for Military Interrogation. These reports indicated that Muhammed Jamal Al-Wafa’i has been subject to severe torture, Osama Ali was tortured until his health condition seriously deteriorated and that Arwad Al-Boushi, Mousa Al-Zein, Marwan Uthman, Hasan Saleh and many others, had all been tortured. A number of reports which were received by SHRC indicated that Mohammed Saeed Al-Sakhri had suffered severe torture which lead to his death in late 2002, however news of his death could not verified by SHRC from another source.
It is notable that torture and mental and physical abuse are all banned in modern civil societies, and stipulated by international treaties to which Syria is a signatory. Indeed, the Syrian Constitution also bans such practices, as stated in the third paragraph of Article 28: “It is prohibited to torture any person either physically or mentally or to treat them in a degrading manner, and all these practices are punishable by law.” However, it seems that those who carry out these inhumane practices realise that there are new laws which have been initiated by the Security Forces, which protect them from the arm of the law.
The most common torture methods can be listed as follows:
a. Beating: on all regions of the body, using all methods possible, including slapping and kicking, using belts, cables and batons.
b. The Wheel: where the detainee’s body is bent so that his head and feet are placed in the wheel in an arch shape, and then his feet, legs and entire body are beaten with all imaginable methods and means, until severe bleeding.
c. German Seat: A metal seat with movable parts to which the detainees feet and hands are tied. By bending the chair’s main frame to the rear so that immense pressure is exerted on the neck and joints. This creates great difficulty in breathing and may lead to unconsciousness. One version of these chairs is called the Syrian Chair, where the metal parts are fixed at the front chair legs, to which the detainee’s legs are tied. This leads to the bleeding of the ankles, and is accompanied with beating.
d. Hanging: Tying the detainee’s hands behind his back and suspending him from them or from his feet. In either case, beating is used as well as applying electrical shocks.
e. Electrical Shocks: By attaching electrical cables to sensitive areas of the body, including the ear-lobes, nose, tongue, neck, hands, backside, feet and genitals.
f. Total Isolation from the outside world in a small damp dark cell, without any human contact for lengthy periods of time, sometimes several months.
Added to all of the above, abusive treatment and psychological torment, such as deprivation from sleep, food, water or fresh air, as well as depriving the detainee from passing water or stools or the use of hygiene equipment and clean water. Detainees are mostly deprived also from being visited by their relatives or from any necessary medical treatment.