Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS)

Syria: Arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Messrs. Osama Nassar, Mutaz Mourad, Mohammad Alammar and Anas Al-Shughriþ

SYR 008 / 0611 / OBS 092

Arbitrary detention / Judicial harassment

Syria: Arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of
Messrs. Osama Nassar, Mutaz Mourad, Mohammad Alammar and Anas Al-Shughri

June 20, 2011

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights
Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights
(FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent
intervention in the following situation in Syria.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about
the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Messrs. Osama Nassar, Mutaz
Mourad, Mohammad Alammar and Anas Al-Shughri, four community-level social
activists involved in activities promoting non violence, democratic reforms,
the lift of the state of emergency, the right to freedom of peaceful assembly,
national reconciliation, the release of prisoners of conscience and the fight
against corruption. During the past months, they have monitored and alerted on
human rights violations committed during the repression of the peaceful protest
movement.

According to the information received, on May 1, 2011, Mr.
Osama Nassar was arrested in Darya by a group of armed security forces who
entered his house without any warrant in the middle of the night. To date, he
remains detained without charge by the Darya State security branch. He has not
been allowed any visits by his family and lawyer so far[1].

On the same day, Mr. Moutaz Mourad was arrested in the city
of Darya. He was taken to a detention centre operated by the secret branch of
the Syrian Air Force, where he is still detained to date, without access to his
family and lawyer nor any information on the existence of charges held against
him.

On May 3, 2011, Mr. Mouhammad Alammar was arrested by the
political security branch and his whereabouts remained unknown until May 11,
2011, when his family was informed that Mr. Alammar was detained in the Adra
prison, in Damascus, where he remains detained to date, on charges of “damaging
the prestige of the State”, “weakening national sentiment or incite racial or
sectarian strife made during times of war or in anticipation of war”,
“spreading news that might weaken the moral of the nation” and “holding secret
unauthorised activities and meetings”. His trial is scheduled to begin on June
29, 2011.

Finally, on May 15, 2011, Mr. Anas Al-Shughri was arrested
by security forces near Banyas. No information has been given since then about
his whereabouts and the existence of charges against him.

The Observatory strongly condemns the arbitrary detention of
Messrs. Osama Nassar, Mutaz Mourad, Mohammad Alammar and Anas Al-Shughri, which
seem to merely aim at sanctioning their human rights activities, and fears for
their physical and psychological integrity amid the current general crackdown
against peaceful protesters by army and security forces in Syria since March
16, 2011.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Syrian authorities, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and
psychological integrity of Messrs. Osama Nassar, Mutaz Mourad, Mohammad Alammar
and Anas Al-Shughri;

ii. Disclose the whereabouts of Mr. Anas Al-Shughri;

iii. Ensure the immediate and unconditionally release of
Messrs. Osama Nassar, Mutaz Mourad, Mohammad Alammar, and Anas Al-Shughri since
their detention is arbitrary and only aims at sanctioning their human rights
activities;

iv. Put an end to any act of harassment, including at the
judicial level, against Messrs. Osama Nassar, Mutaz Mourad, Mohammad Alammar,
and Anas Al-Shughri and more generally against all human rights defenders in
Syria;

v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on
Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations
on December 9, 1998, especially:

– its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right,
individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the
protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the
national and international levels”,

– its Article 6 (b) and (c), which states that “Everyone has
the right, individually and in association with others […] as provided for in
human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish,
impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human
rights and fundamental freedoms and […] to study, discuss, form and hold
opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights
and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to
draw public attention to those matters”.

– and its Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall
take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent
authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against
any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination,
pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her
legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

vi.Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and
fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards
and international instruments ratified by the Syrian Arab Republic.

Addresses:

· President, His Excellency Bashar al-Assad, Presidential
Palace, al Rashid Street, Damascus, Syria Arab Republic, Fax: +963 11 332 3410

· Minister of Defence, His Excellency General, Ali Habib
Mahmud, Ministry of Defence, O mayyad Square, Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic,
Fax: +963 11 223 7842

· Minister of Justice, His Excellency Mr. Tayzeer Qala Awwad,
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic, Fax: +963 11 666 2460

· Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Wallid
Mu’allim, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, al-Rashid Street, Damascus, Syrian Arab
Republic, Fax: +963 11 332 7620

· Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari, Permanent Mission of the
Syrian Arab Republic to UN in Geneva, 72 rue de Lausanne, 1202 Geneva,
Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 738 42 75, Email: mission.syria@ties.itu.in

· Embassy the Syrian Arab Republic in Brussels, 1 avenue F.D.
Roosevelt, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Tel: +32 2 554 19 22; Fax: +32 2 648 14 85

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of
the Syrian Arabic Republic in your respective country.

Paris-Geneva, June 20, 2011

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code
of this appeal in your reply.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

·         E-mail:
Appeals@fidh-omct.org

·         Tel and fax
FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

·         Tel and fax
OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

[1] Mr. Osama Nassar had been previously arrested, on March
16, 2011 after a peaceful gathering held before the Ministry of Interior to
call for the release of their relatives and all prisoners of conscience in
Syria. On March 27, 2011, he was released on bail but charges against him
remained pending for violating Article 285 of the Criminal Code which
criminalises “allegations that weaken national sentiment or incite racial or
sectarian strife made during times of war or in anticipation of war” and Article
307 which punishes “deeds committed, writings composed, or speeches held with
the intention of inciting sectarian or racial strife or provoking conflict
between the religions and the various members of the nation”.