Syria: Concern following the enforced disappearance of human rights lawyer Khalil Maatouk

03/10/2012
Urgent Appeal
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Copenhagen, Geneva, Paris, October 3, 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), the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) fear for the safety and security of human rights lawyer Khalil Maatouk following his arrest in the morning of October 2.

Mr. Khalil Maatouk, the Executive Director of the Syrian Center for Legal Research and Studies and a human rights lawyer who has defended numerous prisoners of conscience before Syrian courts, was arrested around 11 a.m. on October 2, 2012 at a checkpoint in Sahnaya (in the countryside outside of Damascus) while he was driving to his workplace in Damascus. He was reportedly taken by armed men. Since then, his whereabouts have been unknown.

The Observatory, the EMHRN and the CIHRS are deeply concerned by this arrest and the subsequent enforced disappearance of Mr. Maatouk. Our organisations fear for his physical and psychological integrity and are all the more concerned that Mr. Maatouk suffers from a serious medical condition, which requires specific and constant medical care[1]. The Observatory, the EMHRN and the CIHRS call upon the Syrian authorities to disclose his whereabouts and release him immediately as we believe that his arrest is related to his human rights activities.

The Observatory, the EMHRN and the CIHRS urge the Syrian authorities to put an end to all acts of harassment against human rights defenders, to immediately and unconditionally release all persons arbitrarily detained and to conform in all circumstances with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (1998) as well as international human rights instruments ratified by Syria.

For further information, please contact:
• FIDH: Arthur Manet: +33 1 43 55 25 18
• OMCT: +41 22 809 49 39
• EMHRN: Shaimaa Abu Elkheir: +20 101077207
• CIHRS: Sohair Riad: +202-27951112

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN)
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)

[1] Mr. Maatouk suffers from lung problems and had just returned home from a long trip where he had to receive urgent medical care.

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