Re: Michel Kilo, Ali Shahabi, & Anouar Al Bunni
To: H.E. President Bashar al-Assad and others
From: Michael M. Macauley, LRWC
I have last written you in May and August of 2006 regarding the detention of Michel Kilo and Ali Shahabi, respectively, as a result of their signing of the “Beirut-Damascus Declaration”.
When I last wrote you Mr. Shahabi’s location was unknown and his family was being denied access to him. However, it has recently been brought to our attention that he is being held at Adra prison. While LRWC is pleased that Mr. Shahabi’s family has been made aware of his whereabouts and have been granted visitation, we remain concerned that he continues to be detained without charges, contrary to Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
LRWC has also been informed that Anouar Al Bunni and Michel Kilo also remain in detention for their role in the signing of the “Beirut-Damascus Declaration”. Both men are facing charges of “undermining national pride” and “incitement to racial and sectorial hatred” under article 285 of the Criminal Code in relation to their signing of the “Beirut-Damascus Declaration” in May 2006.
LRWC is troubled by the circumstances under which these men have been arrested and held and wishes to respectfully remind you of your government’s commitments under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, specifically:
- Article 5, prohibiting all forms of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment;
- Article 9, prohibiting arbitrary arrest and detention; and
- Article 19, protecting individuals right to freely hold and express opinions without interference.
LRWC also wishes to bring to your attention the UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Person Under Any From of Detention or Imprisonment, adopted by the General Assembly in 1988, and encourage your government to abide by all of its principles. In particular, we wish to draw your attention to the following principles:
- Principle 6, prohibiting torture or other forms of cruel and unusual treatment;
- Principle 8, requiring unconvicted prisoners to be treated as such;
- Principle 10, requiring the detained to be informed of the charges for which he is being held; and
- Principle 15, prohibiting prisoners from being denied communication with the outside world for more than a matter of days.
We also wish to remind your government of its commitments under:
- Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, prohibiting torture, and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and which, under Article 4, cannot be derogated from as a result of Syria’s state of emergency; and
- Article 38 of the Syrian Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression to all Syrian citizens.
LRWC respectfully asks that your government that Mr. Shahabi, Mr. Kilo and Mr. Al Bunni be immediately released and granted access to legal representation. In the meantime, LRWC asks your government to guarantee that their physical and psychological integrity be respected, and that information on their condition be provided to LRWC.
Please advise LRWC by mail, e-mail or fax of all steps being taken by your government to rectify the situations of these men. Also, please advise LRWC of any and all steps being taken to ensure that all international standards and covenants are being respected.
Thank you once again for your time and attention to our concerns. LRWC awaits your response.