Arbitrary arrest / Incommunicado detention / Risks of ill-treatment - SYR 003 / 0506 / OBS 060

Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of the arrest, on May 14, 2006, of Mr. Michel Kilo, a prominent pro-democracy activist and the president of the Organisation for the Defence of Freedom of Expression and the Press, a Syrian NGO, in Damascus.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Syria.

Description of the facts:

According to the information received, Mr. Michel Kilo was summoned on May 14, 2006 by the Syrian intelligence services. Since that date, his family has received no news of him, which suggests that he may be detained incommunicado at the premises of the intelligence services, and runs the risk of being subjected to ill-treatment.

Mr. Kilo, who already spent two years in prison in the early 1980s, is one of the leaders of the Syrian NGOs discussion clubs, which regularly debate on issues related to political reform, democracy and human rights in Syria. He is also a journalist at al-Quds, a leading daily newspaper in Arabic that is published in London.

According to the information received, Mr. Kilo may have been arrested in relation with the recent circulation of a petition drawn up by Syrian and Lebanese intellectuals and human rights activists calling for the improvement of the relations between the two countries. Mr. Kilo signed this petition, which is the first of its kind and has already been signed by over 500 people. He had already been shortly arrested with other at the end of March 2006, in the context of a wave of repression against civil society activists in Syria.

The Observatory expresses its deep concern over the incommunicado detention of Mr. Michel Kilo, and fears that his arrest be directly connected to his commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms in Syria.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Syrian authorities asking that they:

i. guarantee under all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Michel Kilo;

ii. provide, with the greatest celerity, information on his whereabouts as well as on his conditions of detention;

iii. release Mr. Kilo immediately and unconditionally, as his detention is arbitrary;

iv. conform with the provisions of the Declaration on Humans Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular article 1, which states that "everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realisation 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 or 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";

v. more generally, ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Syria in accordance with international human rights standards.

Addresses :

- M. Bashar al-ASAD, President of the Republic, Presidential Palace, Abu Rummaneh, Al-Rashid Street Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic. Tel/ Fax : + 963 11 33 23 410

- Général Basam ABD AL-MAJID, Ministry of the Interior, Merjeh Circle, Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic. Tel/Fax : +963 11 222 34 28; Email:

- M. Muhammad al-GHAFRI, Ministry of Justice, Al Nasr street, Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic. Tel/Fax : +963 11 224 62 50

- M. Walid MU’ALLIM, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, al-Rashid Street, Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic. Fax: + 963 11 332 76 20

- His Excellence Ambassador Mr. Bashar JA’AFARI, Permanent Mission of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations in Geneva, Rue de Lausanne 72 (3rd floor), 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 715 45 60, Email:

- Ambassador Mr. Badi Khattab, Diplomatic Mission of 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 representations of Syria in your respective countries.


Paris-Geneva, May 15, 2006

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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