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ATTORNEY URGENT  ALERT

 

SYRIA

4 May 2010

 

A new public hearing of the trial of human rights lawyer

 

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Muhannad Al-Hassani,

 

President of the Syrian Organisation for Human RightsSawassyah”, Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) .

 

The next hearing will be held on May 27th , 2010.

 

 

 

 

A new hearing about evidences was held on  May 4th 2010   before the Second Chamber of the Damascus Criminal Court ,  in the presence of numerous human rights activists and lawyers, foreign embassies representatives, and international observers, notably Me Vincent NIORE, representative of the Bâtonnier of the Paris Bar. The hearing concerned the evidences and was not on the merits.  The trial was postponed on May 27th , 2010.

Previously, on February 18, al-Hassani appeared before a Damascus criminal court for interrogation on charges of "weakening national sentiment" and "spreading false or exaggerated information" in connection with his monitoring of the Supreme State Security Court (SSSC), a special court with almost no procedural guarantees. On March 10, 2010, the first public hearing of the trial of human rights lawyer Mr. Muhannad Al-Hassani, President of the Syrian Organisation for Human Rights “Sawassyah”, Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) ,  in the presence of numerous human rights activists and lawyers, foreign embassies representatives, and international observers, notably Mr Mario LANA,  Deputy president of IDHAE.

 

During his hearing, Mr. Al-Hassani recalled that the accusations held against him are groundless. He recalled that “Sawassyah” was set up in conformity with Syrian legal provisions, and that according to its status, hearings before the Supreme State Security Court are public. Mr. Al-Hassani stressed that his organisation has always denounced all kinds of human rights violations, be it at the national or regional levels. He also challenged anyone to bring evidence that “Sawassyah” has ever “spread false news” during its six years of existence. In his conclusion, Mr. Al-Hassani stated that “human rights principles represent a humanist achievement for the sake of the weak, the oppressed and voiceless people. It is a noble commitment, and I am innocent of all criminal accusations that are made against me”. Towards the end of the hearing, Mr. Al-Hassani was pulled violently by a police officer to prevent him from talking with his lawyers.    

The next hearing will be held on May 27th , 2010. Mr. Al-Hassani faces a sentence of up to 15 years of imprisonment.

 

In addition, Mr. Al-Hassani faces another penal procedure following his request to attend French lessons given within the prison, a move that reminds penal procedures undertaken against several other human rights defenders, notably Mr. Haytham Al-Maleh, Mr. Anwar Al-Bunni, Mr. Kamal Al-Labwani and Mr. Walid Al-Bunni on the basis of the testimony of other detainees.

 

Prisoners   are also subjected to harassment and discriminatory conditions during their detention. On March 13, 2010, several prisoners of conscience detained in the Adra prison in Damascus, including Mr. Mohannad Al-Hassani, Mr. Jaber Al-Shoufie, a member of the Committees for the Defence of Freedoms and Human Rights in Syria (CDF), and Mr. Riad Al-Seif, a pro-democracy activist, decided to give up their visitation rights to protest to the penitentiary administration’s attempt to compel them to keep their prison uniform during visits. This measure illustrates the discriminatory conditions of detention for prisoners of conscience, such as restricted access to their lawyers and families during their visits, deprivation of a bed, constant scrutiny and harassment from their cellmates.

 

 

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