Front Line is concerned following reports of ongoing harassment against human rights defenders in Syria, including the arbitrary detention of Mr Moussa Shnani and the travel bans imposed against Mr Aktham Naisse and Mr Abdulkarim Rehawi.
May 5 2005 Syrian human rights defender Aktham Naisse, President of the Committees for the Defence of Democratic Liberties and Human Rights in Syria (CDF) has had all charges against him dismissed following a much postponed trial process. Aktham Naisse had been charged with “opposing the objectives of the revolution” and “disseminating false information aiming at weakening the State,” charges carrying a possible 15-year prison sentence. He was originally arrested in April 2004 with regard to the charges which Front Line believes were fabricated because of his work for the protection of human rights in Syria. Front Line has called for the protection of all human rights defenders in Syria in accordance with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
Syrian human rights defender Aktham Naisse, President of the Committees for the Defence of Democratic Liberties and Human Rights in Syria (CDF) appeared in court on 24 April 2005. His trial was postponed for a third time until the 26th of June 2005 for sentencing. Two Kurdish human rights activists Shevan Abdo and Massaab Hariri were also due to go on trial the same day but their trials were postponed. Both activists are from the town of Qamishli.
The defence counsel have argued that the charges are unconstitutional and that Aktham is being persecuted due to his democratic principles and his promoting the protection of human rights. There were approximately 200 Syrians protesting outside the Supreme State Security Court in Damascus during the hearing and the area was sealed off by 50-riot police. There were a number of international observers present including Nasser Amin, Director of the Arab centre for Independence of Judiciary who represented Front Line. Representatives of the European Commission delegation in Syria were also present.
Front Line has received reports that June 20, the family of Aktham Naisse, president of the Committees for the Defense of Democratic Liberties and Human Rights in Syria (CDF), were allowed to visit him in the Saidnaya prison where has been imprisoned since April 22, 2004.
According to Mr. Naisse's family, the interview was very short. Aktham Naisse has been paralysed since the beginning of his detention. He was “dragged” along by his guards out of his cell and brought to a place where his family only saw him briefly. He only had time to tell his relatives that he was detained in very bad conditions and informed them that he had begun a hunger strike. Front Line is worried about Mr. Naisse health as he is a diabetic and strictly requires daily medical treatment.
Syrian human rights defender Aktham Naisse has not been seen since he presented himself at the department of military security in the city of Latakia, in the west of Syria, Tuesday the 13th April 2004. Front Line believes Aktham Naisse may have been arrested when he presented himself, as ordered, at the department of military security. According to reports received he has been held incommunicado since then. The Department of Military Security in the city of Latakia has reportedly denied having him in custody. According to our reports he is at risk of torture and suffers from an irregular heartbeat and a kidney complaint, both of which require medication. Front Line fears that Aktham Naisse may have been arrested solely because of his work in defense of human rights. He is the President of the Committees for the Defence of Democratic Liberties and Human Rights (CDDLHR).
Front Line welcomes the decision of the Syrian Supreme State Court (SSSC) to release Aktham Naisse President of the Committees for the Defence of Democratic Liberties and Human Rights in Syria (CDF) and calls on the Syrian authorities to drop all charges.
Mary Lawlor, Director of Front Line said “ I welcome the decision to release Aktham Naisse on bail. This is the first time that the SSSC has made such a decision, however all charges must be dropped”
At today’s hearing at the SSSC in Damascus it was decided to release Aktham tomorrow with a bail of 10.000 Syrian Pounds. The next hearing is due to take place the 24 October 2004.