Syria: Walid al-Bunni | Letter

Re: Walid al-Bunni

To: President Bashar al-Assad

From: Michael M. Macaulay, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada Member

Date: 2009-06-03

LRWC has been advised, by reliable sources, of acts of judicial harassment and of the continuing arbitrary detention of Mr. Walid al-Bunni, a member of the Association of Human Rights in Syria who has been detained in Adra Prison since December 17, 2007 in connection with his involvement in the Damascus Declaration for Democratic National Change.

According to the information we have received, on May 13 and 28, 2009, the Second Military Court of Damascus tried Mr. al-Bunni for “weakening the national sentiment” by “issuing calls” or “spreading false or exaggerated information” (respectively Article 285 and 286 of the Syrian Criminal Code), punishable by up to 15 years’ imprisonment. At the May 13, 2009 hearing, we are advised that a Mr. Ashour Oqba, an inmate at Adra Prison, accused Mr. al-Bunni of having uttered insults and discussed with him the Special Tribunal for Lebanon charged with the investigation into the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, the Syrian President, the head of the division of military intelligence, and Syrian-Lebanese relations. At the May 28, 2009 hearing, several defence witnesses confirmed that the accusations made against Mr. al-Bunni were false. The hearing was then adjourned to June 7, 2009, at the request of the Prosecutor General.

LRWC is deeply concerned by these reported acts of judicial harassment against Mr. al-Bunni and his continued arbitrary detention, which appear to sanction Mr. al-Bunni’s work in relation to human rights. LRWC respectfully asks that Syrian authorities guarantee Walid al-Bunni the right to a fair trial in line with international human rights standards, including internationally accepted norms of fairness, transparency and impartiality.

In addition, LRWC also asks that you guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. al-Bunni; release Mr. Al-Bunni immediately and unconditionally from his current arbitrary detention; and immediately put an end to any kind of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Walid al-Bunni, and all human rights defenders in Syria.

Please advise LRWC by mail, e-mail or fax of all action being taken by your government to rectify this situation. LRWC will be monitoring the Activists’ situation closely. A copy of this letter will be being forwarded to Canadian officials to alert them to Activists’ circumstances.

LRWC awaits your response.