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Adraa Women’s Prison is turning into Just another

bandannie apologizes for the poor presentation

– Press Statement


Violation Documentation Center in Syria (VDC) has been informed that Adraa

Women’s prison

has become similar to syrian security branches in many aspects, especially

regarding the way female detainees are treated, the poor health conditions and the lack of


This prison is located in Adraa City in Damascus suburbs, just next to the men’s prison in

the south-eastern side. It has recently witnessed accelerated events, the most recent of which

has been an open hunger strike carried out by women detainees few weeks ago, to demand

better conditions of detention and to accelerate their standing before courts.

Adraa Women’s Prison is divided into two sections:

– Criminal Section:

specialized in various Criminal charges

Political Section: divided into two lockups:

1. Commitment lockup:

includes all detainees transferred from various security

branches. At the present time, the number of detainees there is about women,

and this number is subject to changes according to the number of detainees that are

being transferred daily from other security branches, or those who are being moved


2. Arrest lockup:

currently includes more than 40 detainees who have appeared before

the court. This number continues to increase as a result of the large number of

detainees that has been transferred to the judiciary from various security branches.


Criminal Section also includes a number of political detainees. This was confirmed by a

lawyer who encountered more than ten cases of detainees that got arrested by security

branches, either because of their participation in revolutionary activities or due to their

political backgrounds, and was consequently admitted to the criminal section, to be sent, later

on, to criminal trials facing purely criminal charges such as prostitution, theft and drug abuse.


One of the former female detainees told

VDC that after she had been detained by the Raid

Detachment Branch

215, the subsidiary of Military Intelligence Department, she was

surprisingly transferred to the ” Criminal Section” with dozens of women prisoners who had

been facing criminal charges, on top of which was prostitution, although she had been

arrested in

March 2013 for her revolutionary media and field activism.

Most of the former women detainees whom

VDC interviewed agreed that Adraa Women’s

Prison does not differ much from any other security branch. Many detainees even confirmed

that it turned into a mere security branch, especially the “Commitment Section”, after the

officer in charge of the prison, General “Faisal Oqla

from Deir ez-Zor, banned all the

privileges that central prisons usually have. He prohibited TVs, radios, refrigerators, buying

any vegetable or meat, and handmade crafts such as

“beads and wool”. He also prohibited the

detainees from making any phone calls, and prohibited the parents from bringing books or

any kind of food for the detainees

. Moreover, prisoners from the “Prostitution Section” were

brought to inspect the other detainees’ personal items in a provocative way

without any

justifiable reasons. All of those mentioned actions began in August 2012.

In Adraa Prison, female detainees are exposed to several kinds of punishments by

the prison guards; such as leaving detainees in the individual cell for long periods,

beating them with truncheons, pull their hair, or beat them on the feet ‘Falaqah’.

One of the female detainees told


“Once, a few security guards entered the prison dormitory, and

started beating

more than 20 of the detainees with truncheons. Then, they took one of them-after

taking off her ‘Hijab’ (veil) and pulling her hair-to the ‘torturing room’, where she was

brutally beaten on her feet. She couldn’t walk properly for three days after that. This

happened, specifically, last May 2013.

On another time, during an inspection, they found one of the detainees reading the

Holy Quran. She had a quarrel with them and then they hit her and stepped on the

Holy Quran. This happened, specifically, in July 2013, a few days before Holy


Slow death” is how one of the former female detainees described the condition of some

sick women there. Despite the fact that there were pregnant women, babies, elderly women,

and women with malignant diseases, there were no specialized doctors in Adraa Prison. The

Administration of the Prison justified the lack of medical care by saying that the road to the

hospital is so dangerous due to the clashes, and that sending a detainee to the hospital

requires the ‘approval of some authority’ which they didn’t name. Many deaths have

happened in the prison, the last of which was the death of a detainee, who was very sick and

had some kind of stroke or shortness of breath and died immediately. One of the detainees

who witnessed the incident stated to VDC that

“The other detainees did not know the nature of the disease of (Huda 39 years old,

Homs), as she suffered some kind of “stroke” or “shortness of breath”. Despite the fact that

other detainees asked the guards to take her to the medical clinic, but they refused, which

caused her immediate death. This was in the first week of February 2013.

According to another former detainee testimony, one of her cellmates tried to commit

suicide by cutting her ‘artery’ because they did not provide milk for her 10

-month-old baby,

to whom she gave birth during her detention period in Homs’ Central Prison before being

transferred to Adraa prison. Also, in another incidence recorded few weeks ago, an 8-daysold

baby died in the same prison, due to the lack of nutrition and the absence of newborn


The VDC in Syria appeals to all humanitarian and human rights international

organizations to intervene immediately in order to release all female detainees from the

prisons of the Syrian regime, and to stop the heinous practices against Adraa W


Prison detainees.

Violation Documentation Center in Syria

September 2013

Violation Documentation Center in Syria E-mail:
Websit: Facebook: Twitter:

Rudd seeks action on torture allegations involving Palestinian children

by John Lyons

The Australian

17 December 2011

AUSTRALIA will raise concerns with Israel about its juvenile military court system, which has been accused of jailing and torturing Palestinian children as young as 12.

Following a report in The Weekend Australian Magazine three weeks ago, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has instructed Australian diplomats to visit the juvenile military court.

The diplomats have been told to report to Mr Rudd on the conditions they find at the Ofer military prison, near Jerusalem.

According to a statement from Mr Rudd’s office, he has also instructed Australian officials to initiate a meeting with Israeli authorities to raise concerns about the system under which Palestinian children are tried.

Sixty of Israel’s leading psychologists, academics and child experts have written to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that “offensive arrests and investigations that ignore the law do not serve to maintain public order and safety”.

The Weekend Australian Magazine reported that allegations included : a boy kept in solitary confinement for 65 days ; other boys in solitary confinement with the lights on 24 hours a day ; a seven-year-old boy in Jerusalem taken for interrogation who says he was hit during questioning ; three children being given electric shocks by hand-held devices to force them to confess ; dog’s food being put on the head and near the genitals of a blindfolded boy and a dog being brought in to eat it while his interrogators laughed.

The magazine reported that, since January, 2007, Defence of Children International has collected and translated into English 385 sworn affidavits from Palestinian children held in Israeli detention who claim to have suffered serious abuse : electric shocks, beatings, threats of rape, being stripped naked, solitary confinement, threats that their families’ work permits will be revoked and “position abuse” – which involves a child being placed in a chair with their feet shackled and hands tied behind their back, sometimes for hours.

A 10-year-old boy testified : “A soldier pointed his rifle at me. The rifle barrel was a few centimetres from my face. I was so terrified that I started to shiver. He made fun of me and said, ’Shivering ? Tell me where the pistol is before I shoot you’.”

A 15-year-old boy testified that he was tied to a metal pipe and beaten by a soldier and that an interrogator placed a device against his body and gave him an electric shock, saying : “If you don’t confess I’ll keep shocking you.” He said the interrogator gave him another electric shock, at which point he could no longer feel his arms or legs, felt pain in his head and confessed.

Gerard Horton, an Australian lawyer dealing with many of the cases in his role at DCI, said one Israeli interrogator working in the settlement, Gush Etzion, “specialises in threatening children with rape” to get confessions.

One woman involved in the YMCA’s rehabilitation program for children who have been under Israeli detention, Fadia Saleh, told The Australian as part of its investigation : “Last week, one boy described to me how dogs were present in the army jeep. In those jeeps, you have chairs on each side and an empty space in the middle – the children are put there, on the floor. Sometimes soldiers step on them.

“Every time the child moved, one of the dogs would bite him. When he arrived at the interrogation centre, his arm was bleeding. It was a short trip but he felt like (it was) a year.”

The Weekend Australian Magazine reported that, while diplomatic and parliamentary missions from many countries had visited the juvenile court, Australian diplomats had appeared to show no obvious interest in the court.

Mr Horton said Australia had been “conspicuously silent” about possible human rights abuses against Palestinian children.

He told the magazine : “It is disappointing that, of all the diplomatic missions in the region, Australia has been conspicuously silent on the issue of the military courts.”

Australia’s Ambassador to Israel, Andrea Faulkner, was told of the treatment of children more than a year ago.

Although informed of the issue, neither Ms Faulkner nor any other Australian representative has visited the court.

The Weekend Australian Magazine was given rare access for the media to the court – it was allowed to visit on three separate occasions over the last year, with the Israeli Defence Forces, as part of this investigation.

This week, an Australian official has begun meetings on the issue in preparation for a visit to the juvenile court by Australian diplomats.

Most of the children before the military court are charged with stone-throwing and sentenced to prison terms ranging from two weeks to 10 months.

The Israeli Defence Forces reported at least 2766 incidents of rock-throwing against them or passing cars this year.

Israeli police say a crash in September in which a man and his infant son were killed may have been caused by a rock hitting their car.

Authorities in Israel did not want to discuss individual cases of children but the country’s international spokesman Yigal Palmor said there were “many things” that needed to improve and that Israel was working with human rights groups and making “slow reform and improvement”.

The treatment of Palestinian children in the West Bank, which is under Israeli military occupation, is in contrast to the treatment of children in Israel.

In Israel, a child cannot be sent to jail until the age of 14, while Palestinian children are being jailed from the age of 12 ; in Israel a child cannot be interrogated without a parent present ; in Israel a child cannot be interrogated at night, while most of the Palestinian children being taken from their homes are detained between midnight and 5am ; in Israel the maximum period of detention without access to a lawyer is 48 hours, while in the West Bank it is 90 days.

In recent times, the military court has been visited by diplomats or parliamentary delegations from the UK, the US, the European Union, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Cyprus and the United Nations.

Mr Horton says that before most cases are taken up, DCI requires a sworn affidavit.

He told the magazine of the common treatment for many children : “Once bound and blindfolded, the child will be led to a waiting military vehicle and in about one-third of cases will be thrown on the metal floor for transfer to an interrogation centre.

“Sometimes the children are kept on the floor face down with the soldiers putting their boots on the back of their necks, and the children are handcuffed, sometimes with plastic handcuffs, which cut into their wrists. Many children arrive at the interrogation centres bruised and battered, sleep-deprived and scared.”

Mr Horton said the whole point of this treatment was to get the children to confess as quickly as possible.

In one case, even though a child insisted that a confession he had signed was not true, as he had signed it only after pressure, he was convicted on the basis of the confession.

A spokeswoman for Mr Rudd said that, during Israel’s last appearance before the UN Universal Periodic Review Working Group, Australia questioned Israel about reported mistreatment of detainees.

She said the government universally opposes the detention of minors.

“The Australian government’s long held view is that all children, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender or other differences, should enjoy the same legal and human rights protections,” she said.

17 décembre 2011 – The Australian – available to subscribers only

Locked Up and Left Behind: Hurricane Irene and the Prisoners on New York’s Rikers Island

August 26, 2011

by Jean Casella and James Ridgeway

“We are not evacuating Rikers Island,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a news conference this afternoon. Bloomberg annouced a host  of extreme measures being taken by New York City in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Irene, including a shutdown of the public transit system and the unprecedented mandatory evacuation of some 250,000 people from low-lying areas. But in response to a reporter’s question, the mayor stated in no uncertain terms (and with more than a hint of annoyance) that one group of New Yorkers on vulnerable ground will be staying put.


New York City is surrounded by small islands and barrier beaches, and a glance at the city’s evacuation map reveals all of them to be in Zone A (already under a mandatory evacuation order) or Zone B–all, that is, save one. Rikers Island, which lies in the waters between Queens and the Bronx, is not highlighted at all, meaning it is not to be evacuated under any circumstances.

According to the New York City Department of Corrections’ own website, more than three-quarters of Rikers Island’s 400 acres are built on landfill–which is generally thought to be more vulnerable to natural disasters. Its ten jails have a capacity of close to 17,000 inmates, and normally house at least 12,000, including juveniles and large numbers of prisoners with mental illness–not to mention pre-trial detainees who have yet to be convicted of any crime. There are also hundreds of corrections officers at work on the island.

We were not able to reach anyone at the NYC DOC for comment–but the New York Times‘s City Room blog reported: “According to the city’s Department of Correction, no hypothetical evacuation plan for the roughly 12,000 inmates that the facility may house on a given day even exists. Contingencies do exist for smaller-scale relocations from one facility to another.”

For a warning of what can happen to prisoners in a hurricane we need only look back at Katrina, and the horrific conditions endured by inmates at Orleans Parish Prison in New Orleans. According to a report produced by the ACLU:

[A] culture of neglect was evident in the days before Katrina, when the sheriff declared that the prisoners would remain “where they belong,” despite the mayor’s decision to declare the city’s first-ever mandatory evacuation. OPP even accepted prisoners, including juveniles as young as 10, from other facilities to ride out the storm.

As floodwaters rose in the OPP buildings, power was lost, and entire buildings were plunged into darkness. Deputies left their posts wholesale, leaving behind prisoners in locked cells, some standing in sewage-tainted water up to their chests …

Prisoners went days without food, water and ventilation, and deputies admit that they received no emergency training and were entirely unaware of any evacuation plan. Even some prison guards were left locked in at their posts to fend for themselves, unable to provide assistance to prisoners in need.


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