SYR 003 / 0712 / OBS 071
Ongoing incommunicado detention
July 18, 2012
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Syria.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing arbitrary detention of Mr. Bassel Khartabil, a computer engineer specialised in open-source software development, known for his activities in favour of the development of the open web.
According to the information received, on March 15, 2012, Mr. Khartabil was arrested in the Mazzeh district of Damascus. His arrest took place amid a wave of other arbitrary arrests carried out during the one-year anniversary of the Syrian uprising. Mr. Khartabil’s family has recently learned from former detainees held within the security detention branch 291 in Kafer Sousa, Damascus, that Mr. Khartabil was being detained there. However, his whereabouts have not been formally disclosed yet and the latter therefore remains officially detained incommunicado.
The Observatory is deeply concerned about Mr. Bassel Khartabil’s ongoing arbitrary detention and fears for his physical and psychological integrity, particularly in the current context of widespread use of torture and ill-treatment in detention centres throughout Syria. The Observatory calls upon the Syrian authorities to take prompt action in order to officially disclose his fate and whereabouts and release him immediately and unconditionally, as his detention merely aims at sanctioning his activities in favour of freedom of expression.
Please write to the Syrian authorities, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Bassel Khartabil, as well as of all human rights defenders in Syria;
ii. Take prompt action in order to officially disclose the fate and whereabouts of Mr. Bassel Khartabil and release him immediately and unconditionally, as his detention seems to only aim at impeding his activities in favour of freedom of expression through the web;
iii. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its Article 1, which provides 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”, as well as with Article 12.2 “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 Justice, His Excellency Mr. Tayseer Qella Awad, 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 7620/11 214 6253;
· 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: firstname.lastname@example.org;
· Embassy the Syrian Arab Republic in Brussels, 3 avenue F.D. Roosevelt, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Tel: +32 2 648 01 35 ; Fax: +32 2 646 40 18.
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of the Syrian Arabic Republic in your respective country.
Paris-Geneva, July 18, 2012
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29