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14 October, 2009




Haytham al-Maleh, 

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  a 78-year-old  human rights lawyer

and former president of the Syrian Human Rights Society


by State security agents

for speaking by phone on a television channel about the intensifying security grip in Syria.


UPDATE : 3/11/2009 : Haytham al-Maleh, was charged by a military judge on 3 November withconveying false news” about the human rights situation in Syria


Source :   





Haytham al-Maleh a 78-year-old male human rights lawyer and former president of the Syrian Human Rights Society, has been held incommunicado since his arrest by Syrian Political Security personnel on 14 October in Syria’s capital, Damascus


On 13 October 2009, Haytham al-Maleh, was summoned by Syrian Political Security in Damascus for an inquiry and has since vanished. He left his home on the morning of 14 October 2009 and by noon hour his phone was off - it became clear that he was disappeared.

Haythamal-Maleh spoke by phone on Oct. 12, 2009 to the presenter of the Panorama show on the Barada television channel about the intensifying security grip in Syria. Al-Maleh told Panorama that the situation this year was worse than the last, since arrests were increasing. He gave the example of his colleague Muhannad al-Husni who was arrested simply for monitoring public trials and sentences issued during them. State security arrested him and the magistrate issued an arrest warrant against him, the Syrian judiciary continuing to be under control. The syndicate and state security then brought a disciplinary action against him. He pointed out that all actors in the political and social fields in Syria are moving peacefully. For example, the Damascus Declaration calls for peaceful, democratic, and progressive change. No one believes that violence or revolution leads to change. He stressed that the state has huge potential in terms of intelligence, police, weapons and means of repression, but that they barricade themselves behind laws, beyond any concept of rights or justice.

Haytham al-Maleh was disappeared for 5 days, reappearing only on 19 October 2009 when he was moved to a branch of the Military Police in Qaboun, Damascus. He was brought before the Military General Prosecutor who charged him with: "contempt of the Head of State", "contempt of public Administration", and the "crime of disseminating false information that would affect the morale of the nation".

Following his reappearance on 19 October 2009, Alkarama submitted Haytham al-Maleh's case to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (on 27 October 2009) asking them to intervene in this regard, in order that he be released or that he be given a fair trial in observance with international human rights norms.


Haytham al-Maleh, was charged by a military judge on 3 November withconveying false news” about the human rights situation in Syria. He faces up to 15 yearsimprisonment if convicted.The charges against Haytham al-Maleh also include weakening national sentiment and slandering a governmental body. 

He is the lawyer of Muhammad al-Hassani, a jailed human rights defender.

Haytham al-Maleh suffers from diabetes and an overactive thyroid gland. Both conditions require the regular intake of appropriate medication, diet and medical supervision to ensure that his health remains sound.



Haytham al-Maleh,  a prominent lawyer, human rights activist and former president of the Syrian Human Rights Society, has been fighting for more than 50 years in defence of human rights in his nation. It's a battle that has cost him dearly on many occasions. Haytham al-Maleh has been repeatedly harassed accused and jailed for his human rights work in Syria, where he defends cases which often oppose decisions made by the authorities' or security forces. For many years during the 1980s he was subject to detention because of his defense of human rights and liberties in SyriaHe was imprisoned from 1980 to 1987 for his activities in the Freedom and Human Rights Committee of the Syrian Lawyers Union, the local bar association.  He's already spent seven years in prison.

 When  President Bashar al-Assad had come to power following the death of his father, the dictator Hafaz al-Assad , Haitham Maleh was hopeful about the future of his country.   Around this time, political prisoners were released and the people appeared to gain a little more freedom.

Mr Maleh, who had already spent many years fighting for human rights in Syria, seized the moment and co-founded the Human Rights Association in Syria (HRAS), an unlicensed human rights group

In 2002, he was brought before a military tribunal for publishing a magazine in Lebanon, but was later released due to a decision by the President of the Republic, Bashar al-Assad. Subsequently, he had his lawyer's license revoked in 2004 and has several times been banned from travel and from giving lectures. In 2006, the Dutch government awarded him the Geuzen Medal for hiscourageous fight for human rights,” but the Syrian government did not allow him to travel to the Netherlands to receive the prize in person.


Among other lawyers persecuted by the Regime in Syria : Ryad al-Türk, Aktham Naisse, Anwar al-Bunni, Haytham al-Maleh, et Muhamad al-Hassani.



PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in Arabic, English, French or your own language:

-Expressing concern that Haytham al-Maleh appears to be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression;

-Calling on the authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally if this is the case;

-Calling on the authorities to ensure that he will not be tortured or otherwise ill-treated, and reminding them that Syria is a state party to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;

-Urging the authorities to immediately allow him visits from his family, a lawyer of his choosing, an appropriate diet and any medical treatment he may require.



Bashar al-Assad
Presidential Palace
al-Rashid Street
Syrian Arab Republic
Fax: +963 11 332 3410
Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Interior
His Excellency Major S’aid Mohamed Samour
Ministry of Interior
Abd al-Rahman Shahbandar Street
Syrian Arab Republic
Fax: +963 11 222 3428
Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to:

Minister of Foreign Affairs
His Excellency Walid al-Mua’llim
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
‘Abu Rummaneh
al-Rashid Street
Syrian Arab Republic
Fax: +963 11 332 7620
Salutation: Your Excellency








[Your name here]


Your Excellency

I would like to express my concern about the situation of Haytham al- Malah, elderly Syrian lawyer, arrested on 14 October at his office and held in secret in a detention centre in the Kafr Sousa area of Damascus. On 20 October, he was brought before the Military general prosecutor who read out the charges against him. On 25 October, he will be brought before a judge, who will decide whether he should face trial on these charges. If the judge decides he should be tried, and he is convicted, Haytham al-Maleh faces between three and 15 yearsimprisonment.
Haytham al-Maleh is facing charges of “insulting the president”, “insulting the judiciary”, “conveying within Syria false news that could debilitate the morale of the nation” and “weakening nationalist sentiments”. The charges relate to an interview he gave in September to European-based satellite broadcaster Baradda TV, and also articles and reports he has published over three years about government corruption and human rights abuses in Syria.
As he peacefully exercised his right to freedom of expression, I call on you to release Haytham al- Maleh immediately and unconditionally unless he is to be accused with recognizably criminal offences and tried according to fair trial standards.

I also remind you that, in its quality of member state to the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Syria must ensure that he will not be tortured or otherwise ill-treated.

I urge you to ensure that he has access to any medical attention he may require and that he is allowed to regular visits from his family.

Yours sincerely












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