Syrian human rights lawyer Al-Maleh released

Chairwoman Hautala welcomes the presidential pardon of Mr. Haytham Al-Maleh, human rights lawyer and former President of the Human Rights Association in Syria. Haytham Al-Maleh was a candidate for the Sakharov Prize 2010, on the initiative of Heidi Hautala. [:]

As the wave of freedom and democracy sweeps through Tunisia, Egypt and other countries, freedom of expression and assembly will receive the respect that for them is due. The time inescapably comes when illegal detention of a voice of justice and fundamental rights simply cannot be locked away in darkness. The decision by the President to release Mr Al-Maleh testifies to the weight of his word and work in promotion of human rights, Chairwoman Hautala said.

Chairwoman Hautala has expressed concern over the situation and health of Mr al-Maleh repeatedly. After introducing the case at the Subcommittee on Human Rights by Ms Hautala, the European Parliament on 9th of September 2010 adopted a resolution on human rights in Syria, in particular the case of Haythan Al-Maleh. In the resolution, the European Parliament expressed deepest concern about the situation of Mr Haythan Al-Maleh and called on the Syrian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him.

Mr Haytham Al-Maleh was arbitrarily arrested by General Intelligence Service on 14 October 2009, held incommunicado and tried before the Second Military Court of Damascus despite the fact that military tribunals should not try civilians.On 4 July 2010 Mr Al-Maleh was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment on the grounds of “transferring false and exaggerated news that weaken national sentiment”, under Articles 285 and 286 of the Syrian Criminal Code. 

Release of Mr Al-Maleh is a good day for human rights and gives us strength to continue demanding of the release of those, who remain behind in the dark cells and silenced in fear.