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April 2, 2009


Judicial harassment


Mr. Khalil Maatuq,


an active lawyer defending prisoners of conscience and expression in Syria..  

Source    The Observatory SYR 002 / 0409 / OBS 065  .





  Mr. Khalil Maatuq
was notified by the lawyers’ union in Damascus that the General Military Prosecutor was planning to initiate a law suit against him on charges of “offending the President of the Republic” and “inciting religious and sectarian violence in the country”, under Articles 377 and 307 of the Syrian Criminal Code respectively[1].

The Observatory believes that this law suit comes as a means of retaliation to another legal action undertaken since October 2008 by Mr. Maatuq against the chief of the General Military Prosecutor in Homs, in which he accused him of negligence in the conduct of the investigation of events that occurred in the village of Al-Masherfa in October 2008, which resulted in the killing of two civilians.

On October 14, 2008 at night, two young men were indeed killed during an exchange of fire between Syrian security patrols and a smuggling group in village of Al-Masherfa, located in the Syrian-Lebanese border. Among them was Mr. Sami Maatuq, a human rights activist and nephew of Mr. Khalil Maatuq. As this tragic event seems to clearly involve Syrian security forces, Mr. Maatuq filed a first complaint to the chief General Military Prosecutor in Homs on October 22, 2008, in order to incite him to investigate and bring those responsible to justice. On December 17, 2008, a second complaint was filed for lack of action of the Prosecutor. On February 25, 2009, Mr. Maatuq subsequently wrote to President Basher Al-Assad to report such inaction, and argued that this was breaching the law.






 for Mr. Kachkol Ali to be offered necessary protection, and guarantees in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Khalil Maatuq;


Please write to the Syrian authorities, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Khalil Maatuq;

ii. Put an end to any kind of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Maatuq as well as against all human rights defenders in Syria;

iii. 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”, and 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”;

iv. 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.


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

· Minister of Defense, His Excellency General, Hassan Ali Turkmani, Ministry of Defense, O mayyad Square, Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic, Fax: +963 11 223 7842

· Minister of Justice, His Excellency Muhammad al-Ghafari, Ministry of justice, Al-Nasr Street, 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 Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui, 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

· 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.




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