Muhammad Ra’dun and Nizar Ristnawl

Re: Muhammad Ra’dun and Nizar Ristnawl

To: President Bashar al-Assad and others

From: Michael M. Macaulay, member of LRWC

Date: 2005-11-13

I have previously written to express LRWC’s desire for the immediate release of both Nizar Ristnawl and Muhammad Ra’dun. LRWC was delighted to hear news of Mr. Ra’dun’s November 3, 2005 release along with 109 others whom His Excellency President Bashar al-Assad granted amnesty. The granting of amnesty to these prisoners of conscience represents a significant step forward for Syria in meeting its human rights obligations under international law.

However, LRWC remains concerned that Nizar Ristnawl remains in detention in Sednaya Prison awaiting his trial before the Supreme State Security Court scheduled for November 24, 2005. LRWC is troubled to hear reports that Mr. Ristnawl has continued to be denied access to a lawyer and still has not been informed of the charges against him, despite his rapidly approaching trial. LRWC wishes to draw your attention to the UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Person Under Any From of Detention or Imprisonment, with emphasis on the following:

  • Principle 10, requiring the detained to be informed of the charges for which he is being held;
  • Principle 15, prohibiting prisoners from being denied communication with the outside world for more than a matter of days;
  • Principle 17, requiring the detained to be granted the assistance of legal counsel; and
  • Principle 18, requiring that the detained by provided with ample time and conditions in which to communicate with counsel so as to best prepare their defence.

LRWC once again respectfully requests that all international covenants and treaties be followed with regard Mr. Ritsnawl and that he be released immediately. In the event he is not released, LRWC asks that formal charges, for an internationally recognized crime, be laid against Mr. Ristnawl immediately and that he be informed of them. We also ask that Mr. Ristnawl be given access to legal counsel and that the trial date be postponed in order to allow for the preparation of a full and proper defence against all charges.

As well, in light of the recent findings of the Canadian inquiry into the circumstances of the detention of Maher Arar, LRWC would like to remind your Government of its obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Inquiry’s findings that Mr. Arar was in fact tortured in Syrian prison are deeply disturbing to LRWC, and to all Canadians. As such, LRWC respectfully requests that your government honour its obligations under this, and all other international instruments, with respect the treatment of Mr. Ritsnawl and all other prisoners.

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.