Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 2nd July 2012.

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Photo of Karen Lumley Karen Lumley Conservative, Redditch

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the extent of torture and abuse of children in Syria; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

The independent Commission of Inquiry (COI), mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate alleged violations of human rights in Syria, reported on 22 February 2012 that more than 500 children had been killed by the Syrian regime since the unrest began in March 2011, many being targeted by snipers. In their subsequent report of 26 June 2012 the Commission found that the victims of the atrocity in al Houla were predominantly women and children. The Commission has also reported that children continued to be arbitrarily arrested and tortured while in detention, including boys as young as 10 years of age.

We call on the Syrian regime to immediately cease the widespread human rights violations committed by Government forces and paramilitary forces. These include arbitrary arrest and detention, violations of children's rights and use of sexual violence.

Also criticised in the report are anti-Government armed groups that are using children as ancillary staff in field units and hospitals. We are concerned by these increasing accounts of human rights abuses being committed by the armed opposition. These are unacceptable and we call on them to stop.

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