Chairwoman Condemns Sentencing of Haitham al-Maleh to Imprisonment in Syria

Chairwoman Hautala condemns the sentencing of human rights defender Mr Haitham al-Maleh by a Syrian military court on 4 of July to three years in imprisonment.[:] 

Mr al-Maleh is a 79 year old lawyer and human rights defender and a founding member of the Human Rights Association in Syria.Mr al-Maleh was arrested on 14 of October 2009 in Damascus. On 31 of January the Court of Cessation in Syria rejected his appeal against the charges of “conveying false news within Syria that could debilitate the morale of the nation” and “insulting the president”. On 22 of April a military Judge dropped the accusation of “insulting the president”.

Human Rights Organisation Frontline has expressed concerns over the conditions of Mr al-Maleh in prison and in particular of the denial of access to medicine in April 2010. Later on, it was reported that better access to medicine was fortunately granted.

Chairwoman Hautala calls for the Syrian authorities to release Mr Haitham al-Maleh immediately and unconditionally. The charges against him should be similarly dropped. The imprisonment, verdict and sentence seem to stem from no other reason than from his legitimate human rights work, Ms Hautala furthermore noted.

Moreover, while in prison, the Syrian authorities must ensure that Mr al-Maleh is treated in accordance with Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and guarantee that his rights under International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which Syria is also a party to, are respected.