Re: Yassin al-Hamwl and Muhammad All al-Abdullah
To: President Bashar al-Assad; General Ghazi Kan¡¦an, Minster of the Interior; & Muhammad al-Ghafari, Minister of Justice
From: Michael M. Macaulay, member of LRWC
I am writing you once again on behalf of Lawyer¡¦s Rights Watch Canada (¡§LRWC¡¨) regarding the release and impending trial of Yassin al-Hamwl and Muhammad ¡¥All al-¡¥Abdullah, who were respectively arrested on July 26 and 27, 2005 near Damascus. I have previously written you on August 8, 2005 requesting the immediate release and proper treatment of these two men.
LRWC is delighted at the news of the August 16, 2005 release of both Yassin al-Hamwl and Muhammad ¡¥All al¡¦Abdullah on bail, pending their trial set for September 6, 2005. However, we are deeply troubled by the charges of ¡§establishing a secret society¡¨ and ¡§defamation of the public administration¡¨ which have been filed against these two men. With regards to these charges, we would like to respectfully remind your government of its obligations under international law to protect individuals¡¦ freedom of opinion, expression and right to peaceful assembly and association. These obligations include, but are not limited to:
– Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- Article 19, guaranteeing individuals the right to freedom of opinion and expression
- Article 20, guaranteeing individuals¡¦ right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association
– Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
- Article 1, protecting the right of persons, individually or in association, with others to promote and strive for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms
- Article 2, emphasizing the responsibility of the state to promote and protect these fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, opinion, association and peaceful assembly
- Article 3, guaranteeing persons¡¦ rights to meet and assemble peacefully, and form, join or participate in groups or organizations for the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms
The current charges against Yassin al-Hamwl and Muhammad ¡¥All al¡¦Abdullah are in violation of these obligations, and as such LRWC requests that all charges against these men be dropped immediately and that this matter should not proceed to trial.
In the event this matter does proceed to trial, our organization is also concerned that the trial is scheduled to take place in a military court, which does not offer the same openness or independence as the regular judicial system. LRWC once again wishes to respectfully remind your government of its commitments and obligations under international law to provide for a fair and open trial by an independent and impartial judiciary. Once again, the following are some, but not all, of the obligations Syria is a party to:
– Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- Article 10, protecting individuals right to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial judiciary
- Article 11, guaranteeing that individuals be presumed innocent until proven guilty and guaranteeing all necessary provisions required for the accused to receive a proper defence
– Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary
- Article 2, stating the judiciary shall decide matter impartially and on the basis of facts, in accordance with the law and free from improper influence or pressure of any kind
- Article 5, guaranteeing the rights of everyone to be tried by ordinary courts or tribunals, using established processes and legal procedures
In light of the your government¡¦s international obligations LRWC respectfully requests that your government drop all charges against both Yassin al-Hamwl and Muhammad ¡¥All al-¡¥Abdullah as the current charges are in violation of international law. However, should this matter proceed to trial, LRWC requests that all international covenants and treaties be followed with regard to trials and that both men receive fair trials, held publicly and conducted by an independent and impartial judiciary in accordance with international standards.
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.