JOINT STATEMENT – SYRIA – Human rights organizations call on Syrian government to implement the UN Resolution
The Syrian government should immediately release human rights defenders, Mazen Darwish, Hussein Ghareer and Hani Al-Zitani, members of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), and drop all the charges against them. Another hearing of their trial held on 18 November 2013 at the Anti-Terrorism Court in Damascus on alleged terrorism charges brought against them by the Syrian Government’s Air Force Intelligence. Reports confirmed that once again the trial was postponed to 27 January 2014, at the request of the prosecution which has failed to prove the charges against them.
Mazen Darwish is a journalist and head of the Damascus based SCM, which was instrumental in disseminating information regarding the situation in Syria to sources outside the country. He was arrested on 16 February 2012 along with 15 others including Hussein Ghareer, and Hani Al-Zitani when Air Force Intelligence conducted a raid on the offices of the SCM in Damascus.
We the undersigned organizations express serious concern for the security and physical and psychological integrity of human rights defenders, Mazen Darwish, Hussein Ghareer, and Hani Al-Zitani and we strongly believe that they are targeted solely due to their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities in Syria. We are also very concerned about their current situation which has had more of a political grounding rather than any legal basis, in particular given that their office was raided without a warrant and in light of the failure of the judiciary to provide any evidence against them.
Our organizations also recall that on 15 May 2013, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 67/262 on « The situation in the Syrian Arab Republic » which strongly condemned:
2 ….. all violations of international humanitarian law and the continued widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities and the Government-affiliated shabbiha militias, such as (…) massacres, arbitrary executions, extrajudicial killings, the killing and persecution of protestors, human rights defenders and journalists, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, violations of the rights of the child, (…) unlawful interference with access to medical treatment, failure to respect and protect medical personnel, torture, systematic sexual violence, including rape in detention, and ill-treatment, including against children as well as any human rights abuses or violations of international humanitarian law by anti-Government armed groups;
The resolution also called on the Syrian authorities to:
5. ….. immediately release all persons arbitrarily detained, including the members of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression, publish a list of all detention facilities, ensure that conditions of detention comply with applicable international law, and immediately allow access of independent monitors to all detention facilities;