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Arrests and travel ban overlap a workshop for human rights activists in Syria

Publisher World Organisation Against Torture
Publication Date 7 November 2007
Cite as World Organisation Against Torture, Arrests and travel ban overlap a workshop for human rights activists in Syria, 7 November 2007, available at: [accessed 17 October 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Geneva-Paris, November 7, 2007. 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), expresses its deep concern at the obstacles to the freedom of movement that were imposed on different Syrian human rights defenders.

On November 1, 2007, Syrian security authorities arrested Mr. Jihad Msoti, member of the Al-Atassi Forum[1], at Damascus International Airport, as he was heading to Cairo (Egypt) to attend a workshop organised from November 2 to 4, 2007 by FIDH, in collaboration with the Cairo Center for Human Rights Studies and with the participation of the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights. This workshop, aimed at several human rights activists in Syria, was entitled "International and regional mechanisms for defending Human Rights - Difficulties and challenges facing Human Rights movement in Syria" and saw the participation of several Arab and foreign experts in the field of human rights.

On November 4, 2007, Mr. Msoti was liberated after having spent two days under arrest.

Furthermore, in the evening of November 1, 2007, the Syrian government also prevented several other Syrian human rights defenders from leaving the Damascus International Airport and therefore from participating in the above-mentioned workshop. These are: Mr. Radeef Mustafa, a member of the Kurdish Human Rights Committee, Mr. Mustafa Ouso and Mr. Hasan Masho, both members of Kurdish human rights associations, as well as Mr. Khalil Maatouk and Mr. Muhannad Al Husni, human rights lawyers.

The Observatory for the protection of human rights defenders denounces these obstacles to the freedom of movement imposed to the above-mentioned human rights defenders and strongly condemns this new step in the harassment against human rights defenders in Syria, which only aims at muzzling their freedom of expression.

The Observatory recalls that these restrictions on the freedom of movement of the above-mentioned human rights defenders violate the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular of its article 5 (c), which states that "for the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at national and international levels (...) to communicate with non-governmental or intergovernmental organisations",  article 6 (b) regarding the right "to freely publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms", as well as article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides that "everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own".

In addition, the Observatory remains concerned about the ongoing detention of several Syrian human rights defenders and urges the Syrian authorities to ensure their immediate release since their detention is arbitrary as it merely aims at sanctioning their human rights activities. These defenders include Mr. Aref Dalilah, Mr. Anwar Al Bunni, Mr. Michel Kilo, Mr. Nizar Rastanawi, Mr. Kamal Al Labwani, Mr. Firas Saad, Mr. Faek Al Mir, Mr. Riyad Darar and Mr. Mahmoud Issa[2].

More generally, the Observatory calls upon the Syrian authorities to put an end to any act of harassment against human rights defenders, and to conform with regional and international human rights instruments, in particular the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. 

For further information, please contact:

FIDH : Gael Grilhot, + 00 33 1 43 55 25 18

OMCT : Delphine Reculeau, + 00 41 22 809 49 39

[1] This discussion forum was created by Mohamed Ali Al-Atassi along with Syrian intellectuals and human rights activists who fight for the democratisation of the country.

[2] See Observatory Annual Report 2006.

Copyright notice: OMCT

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