Posted by Joshua on Sunday, June 24th, 2007
The Damascus Center for the study of Human Rights publishes invaluable reports on the state of human rights in Syria. The Director of the center is Dr. Radwan Ziyada and the Assistant Director of the center is attorney Razan Zeitounah. Razan Zeitounah's monthly newsletter – Shril – which documents the various cases brought before the Supreme State Security Court is also invaluable.
The Center has just published a report entitled: "Can Extraordinary Courts Ensure Justice? The Supreme State Security Court," by Attorney Razan Zeitouneh and revised by: Prof. Abdul Haï Al-Sayyed, May 2007.
The report explains the history of the Supreme State Security Court in Damascus, which tries most of the prisoners of conscience and explains the many difficulties that the lawyers and defendents face in presenting their cases before this extraordinary court. The report is filled with personal testimony of the activist lawyers who have been fighting the bureaucracy and irregular procedures of the court. It also records personal testimony of the defendents who come before it.
Unfortunately the report has not been published on-line yet at the Center's website: www.dchrs.com
Earlier reports are published, however. The web site has yet to be blocked here in Syria. Here is an example of an earlier report:
"Post-prison roads: Situation of Political Prisoners and Prisoners of Conscience in Syria After Being Released from Custody," by Doctor Hossam Al Saad and Razan Zaitouneh, J.D. The translation was reviewed by Abdulhay Al-Sayyed, J.D., August 2006.
Human Rights News of the last few days
On Friday, some 200 people were arrested in the province of Dara'a on suspiscion of belonging to "Salafist" trends. Unfortunately Islamists who are arrested do not get much attention in the West.
Seven student activists were sentenced to harsh prison terms this week. Here is the article about them:
US Slams Syria for Jailing Young Democrats
22 June 2007, Agence France Presse
WASHINGTON, June 22, 2007 (AFP) –
The United States on Friday criticized the Syrian government for what it called harsh sentencing of seven young democrats and sought their immediate and unconditional release.
The seven defendants, in their 20s, were sentenced to between five and seven years in jail for "exposing Syria to acts of aggression," according to the Syrian National Human Rights Organisation.
"The United States condemns the harsh sentencing of seven young civil society activists, several of them university students … by the Syrian government," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
They were sentenced to prison simply for forming a discussion group and posting their writings on a website, he said.
"The unjust sentences reflect the Syrian regime's contempt for fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression and association. They also reflect a legal system devoid of legitimate standards," he said.
The group was arrested early last year after trying to found a youth association for democracy and pacifism.
The charges were brought under state of emergency laws in place in Syria for more than four decades.
McCormack alleged that the young "prisoners of conscience" were held incommunicado for months and denied access to their lawyers and families.
The United States called on the Syrian government to "immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners and to observe its obligations under international human rights law," he said.
The United States also remained committed to supporting Syrian citizens in their efforts to build a "less corrupt, more prosperous, and more democratic country," he said.
The United States also accuses Syria of aiding anti-US insurgents in Iraq, trying to topple the pro-Western government in Lebanon and backing rejectionist Palestinian groups.