Akram al-Bunni, human rights defender

Re: Akram al-Bunni, human rights defender

To: President Bashar al-Assad and others

From: Michael M. Macaulay, member of LRWC

Date: 2007-01-17

I am writing you in regards to Mr. Akram al-Bunni, a Syrian human rights defender who security forces prevented from leaving Syria on January 11th, 2007. Mr. al-Bunni was to fly to Brussels, Belgium to meet with representatives of the European Union and discuss the situation of human rights and human rights defenders in Syria. He was given no reason for being prevented from leaving the country.

LRWC wishes to respectfully remind the Syrian Government that this restriction on Mr. al-Bunni’s freedom of movement is in violation several articles of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998. This includes:

  • Article 5(c), protecting the right of individuals, alone “and in association with others on national and international levels. to communicate with non-government or intergovernmental organizations”;
  • Article 6(b), which protects the right “to freely publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms”;

As well, the acts of the state security forces on January 11, 2007 also violate Mr. al-Bunni’s rights under article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which protects the right of everyone to be “free to leave any country, including his own”. Syria ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on March 23, 1976 and is obligated to adhere to its articles.

LRWC respectfully asks that Syrian authorities immediately discontinue their harassment of human rights defenders and uphold their obligations to regional and international human rights instruments. As well, LRWC asks that Mr. al-Bunni, should he so wish, be allowed to travel to Belgium, or any other country, to carry on his work as a defender of human rights, or otherwise.

Please advise LRWC by mail, e-mail or fax of all action being taken by your government to rectify this situation. As well, LRWC would be interested in hearing about any and all steps being taken to ensure that all international standards and covenants are being respected in Syria.

Thank you again for your time and attention to our concerns. LRWC awaits your response.