25 Oct 2011

Syrian hospitals 'instruments of repression'- Amnesty

9:13 pm on 25 October 2011

Human rights group Amnesty International says the Syrian government has turned hospitals into instruments of repression as it attempts to suppress continuing protests.

In a 39-page report, Amnesty alleges patients in at least four state hospitals have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, including by medical staff.

As a result, it says, many people are too afraid to seek treatment.

The report details one case in September, when it says security forces raided a hospital in Homs looking for an alleged armed field commander opposed to the government.

According to Amnesty's sources, when they failed to find him they arrested 18 wounded people.

One medic who had worked a private hospital in Homs told Amnesty that hospitals suffered a "dilemma" over patients who needed blood, because the blood bank was under the control of the defence ministry.

The BBC quotes Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa researcher Cilina Nasser as saying Syrian authorities appeared to have "given security forces a free rein in hospitals" and that hospital staff appear to have taken part in torture and ill treatment of the very people they are supposed to care for.