Documenting torture in Raqqa - The SJAC Weekly Update

5/29/13 11:32 AM



The SJAC Weekly Update- May 28, 2013

Documenting torture in Raqqa
Documents, prison cells, interrogation rooms, and torture devices.” That’s what Human Rights Watch researchers found when they visited Syrian security and intelligence facilities in Raqqa city last month. The discoveries not only match up with local testimony, but also fit within “systematic patterns” of a “state policy of torture.” HRW’s report, with its evidence and recommendations for next steps, is a useful case study showing how documentation can lead to accountability. The Raqqa State Security and Military Intelligence premises, in an area now controlled by opposition fighters, contained what appeared to be detention rooms, solitary confinement cells, and a “bsat al-reeh” torture device pictured above. There were also numerous documents found on the premises, including not only the names of those who worked at the facility, but also a list of recent Raqqa college graduates. The Raqqa visit is only the latest in HRW’s investigation into torture by the Syrian regime. Last July, the 81-page “Torture Archipelago” report documented, among other things, 27 different governmental detention centers. It’s clear that steps must be taken to ensure that these discoveries have an impact on future justice and accountability efforts. First and foremost, it is critically important to protect the documents. HRW emphasizes that efforts are needed to “safeguard potential evidence of torture and arbitrary detention.” With evidence and documentation destroyed everyday in Syria, this won’t be easy. The fragility of the political and human rights situation in Raqqa was

Arabic resources for documenters
Visit the SJAC's Resources Page to access our growing collection of Arabic-language resources on documentation and transitional justice. Below are some examples of the kind of documents we're aggregating.

Overview on transitional justice theory, processes, and mechanisms from the International Center for Transitional Justice here.

Advice on best practices for conducting interviews by WITNESS here.

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Documenting torture in Raqqa - The SJAC Weekly Update

5/29/13 11:32 AM

underscored recently by the abduction of Abdullah alKhalil, described by AmnestyUK as “a lawyer defending political prisoners and promoting human rights.” It’s unknown whether alKhalil was kidnapped by the regime (again) or by political competition from other opposition groups in Raqqa. Either way, the situation is extremely difficult for those working to document rights violations. KEEP READING.
Outline of steps involved in establishing truth-seeking processes from International Center for Transitional Justice here.

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The SJAC is an independent, non-political, Syrian-led, and multi-laterally supported organization that serves as a coordinating body for all actors promoting transitional justice and accountability for Syria. The SJAC provides vetted, accurate data on human rights violations occurring on all sides of the conflict in Syria. The SJAC expertise and data is used in the transitional justice process for Syria.

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