Chairwoman Hautala reprimands the decision of the Second Criminal Court of Damascus to convict Mr. Muhannad Al-Hasani, a leading Syrian human rights lawyer, to three years imprisonment, on 24th of June.[:] European Parliament adopted in September a resolution where strong calls were made for the Syrian authorities to release Mr Muhannad al-Hassani immediately.
Mr Al-Hasani was arrested by the Syrian authorities on 28 July 2009 and later on charged with “weakening national sentiments” and “spreading false news” in a closed session to which his lawyer was not allowed access. He was eventually also convicted on these grounds, in particular under Articles 285, 286 and 287 of the Criminal Code of Syria.
Grave concerns remain of the conduct of the trial. The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders have reported especially of severe limitations to the presentation of the evidence and arguments of the defence.
Mr Al-Hasani is the President of the Organisation for Human Rights “Sawasiya” and Laureate of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders 2010. Indeed, the September resolution of the European Parliament expresses its deepest concern about Mr al-Hassani’s detention, which seems to aim at sanctioning his human rights activities, especially regarding his monitoring of the Supreme
State Security Court and detention conditions in Syria.
Chairwoman Hautala reiterates the calls of the resolution for the Syrian authorities to put an end to the policy of persecution and harassment of
human rights defenders and their families and to release immediately all prisoners of conscience, human rights defenders and peace activists in Syria.