Amnesty International has released a report alleging widespread torture and ill treatment of anti-regime detainees by Syrian security forces and militia groups, harkening back to the "dark era" decades ago.
Syrians detained amid the year-long uprising against the government have faced a "nightmarish world of systematic torture," human rights group Amnesty International said Wednesday.
In a report released on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the uprising's inception, Amnesty called for Syria to be referred to prosecutors at the International Criminal Court.
"The scale of torture and other ill-treatment in Syria has risen to a level not witnessed for years and is reminiscent of the dark era of the 1970s and 1980s," the group said, referring to the rule of former president Hafez al-Assad, father of current President Bashar al-Assad.
"Many victims said beating began on arrest, then they were beaten severely - including with sticks, rifle butts, whips and fists, braided cables - on arrival at detention centers," it continued.
The report was based on interviews last month with Syrians who had fled to neighboring Jordan. The report said their testimony was "yet further evidence that torture and other ill-treatment in Syria form part of a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population, carried out in an organized manner and as part of state policy and therefore amount to crimes against humanity."
The United Nations estimates more than 8,000 people have died in the 12 months of fighting and protests, which the Assad regime has blamed on "terrorists" financed by foreign interests.
Annan waiting for answers
Meanwhile, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, acting as special UN-Arab League representative for Syria, said he was still waiting for "concrete proposals" from Assad after the two met in Damascus over the weekend. Annan met with regime opponents in Turkey on Tuesday.
Assad has called new legislative elections for May 7, but Western and Arab nations and Syrian opposition groups have dismissed the action as a sham.
"Of course we will boycott the elections because they will be fixed," Melhem al-Droubi, a member of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and the Syrian National Council, told Reuters news agency by phone. "But this is not a main focus for us. What we want is real change with a real presidential election, which Assad would surely lose."
acb/cmk (AFP, Reuters, dpa)