A recent report by United Nations investigators revealed that children in Syrian government detention have been sexually abused, forced to fight against the opposition, tortured and used as human shields. It was estimated that as many as 10,000 children have been killed since fighting began in March 2011.
On Monday, Jan. 27, investigators submitted a report to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, detailing the extent of abuse toward children by the Syrian government throughout the ongoing conflict in Syria, but the report was only made available to the public on Monday, Feb. 3. Within the report was a detailed listing of “grave violations against children” committed by the Syrian government.
Among the listed violations were accounts of children as young as 11 held in government detention centers with adults, subjected to torture in order to coerce relatives to surrender or confess, according to witnesses.
“Ill treatment and acts tantamount to torture reportedly included beatings with metal cables, whips and wooden and metal batons; electric shocks, including to the genitals; the ripping out of fingernails and toenails; sexual violence, including rape or threats of rape; mock executions; cigarette burns; sleep deprivation; solitary confinement; and exposure to the torture of relatives,” the report said.
In addition, the report noted documented reports of sexual violence against children in government detention, “perpetrated mostly by members of the Syrian intelligence services and the Syrian armed forces” against those who were suspected of being affiliated with the opposition.
The report also noted the use of Syrian children as human shields during operations by the military. In one instance, during Ramadan in 2011, government forces allegedly “used civilians, including at least eight children, as human shields, threatening to kill the children if the opposition did not surrender.”
Fayssal Mekdad, the Syrian deputy foreign minister, said about the report, “I categorically deny there are any children being detained. Those are rumors.”
At the time of the report, the Syrian death toll was at around 100,000, with the 10,000 children included in said figure.