Document - Syria: Further information: Syrian doctors to soon be sentenced


Further information on UA: 114/12 Index: MDE 24/001/2013 Syria Date: 19 February 2013



Dr Mahmoud Al Refaai and Dr Mohamad Osama Al-Baroudi, arrested in Syria on 16 and 18 February 2012 respectively, were referred to a Military Field Court in September 2012 on unknown charges. It is feared that they may shortly be sentenced after an unfair trial, without recourse to appeal mechanisms.

Both doctors were arrested in February 2012 at hospitals in Damascus: Dr Mahmoud Al Refaai reportedly by members of the Syrian Air Force Intelligence, and Dr Mohamad Osama Al-Baroudi by the Criminal Security. According to a local contact, the Syrian authorities did not provide the doctors' families with any information regarding their arrest and detention or their whereabouts. A released detainee, also a doctor, has stated that shortly after their arrest the doctors were being detained at the Air Force Intelligence branch in al-Mezzeh, Damascus. The released detainee said he witnessed both men being repeatedly subjected to torture or other ill-treatment.

Another released detainee informed Amnesty International that both doctors were moved to Saydnaya prison, north of Damascus, around October 2012, where they are believed to be held at present. A local contact has learnt through unofficial sources that both doctors are being tried by a Military Field Court, the procedures of which are grossly unfair and which can lead to a death sentence if convicted. The reported reasons for their arrest and trial relate to their alleged work treating injured demonstrators. Amnesty International understands that the court will shortly sentence them, and is concerned that the verdict may be based on statements extracted under torture and/or other failures by the court to comply with international standards for fair trials.

Please write immediately in Arabic, English, French or your own language:

Asking for clarification of the charges against Dr Mahmoud Al Refaai and Dr Mohamad Osama Al-Baroudi and urging that they be released immediately and unconditionally if their arrest and trial is solely on account of their provision of medical treatment to injured persons, in which case they would be prisoners of conscience;

Calling on the Syrian authorities to immediately end the ongoing trial of the two doctors by the Military Field Court and ensure that any legal proceedings against them fully comply with international fair trial standards, without recourse to the death penalty;

Urging them to ensure that, in the meantime, Dr Mahmoud Al Refaai and Dr Mohamad Osama Al-Baroudi are not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment, and are given immediate access to their families, lawyers of their choice and any medical care they may require.



Bashar al-Assad

Fax: +963 11 332 3410 (keep trying)

(fax/phone line – say "Fax") (Fax is the only reliable communication method; please do not send letters)

Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Defence

‘Imad al-Fraij

Fax: +963 11 223 7842 (keep trying)

+963 11 666 2460 (keep trying)

(fax/phone line – say "Fax")

Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Foreign Affairs

Walid al-Mu’allim

Fax: +963 11 214 6253 (keep trying)

(fax/phone line – say "Fax") (Fax is the only reliable communication method; please do not send letters)

Salutation: Your Excellency�

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the second update of UA 114/12. Further information:


syrian doctors to soon be sentenced

ADditional Information

Military Field Courts were established by the Syrian authorities through Legislative Decree 109 of 17 August 1968 in order to “consider crimes within the jurisdiction of military courts” during war time or when military operations take place. These courts are presided over by military judges and their proceedings are grossly unfair, as defendants have no right to legal representation or to call witnesses. The proceedings are conducted in secret and the dates of the sessions are not divulged. Verdicts handed down by the court are not subject to appeal. Such courts can impose harsh sentences, including the death penalty.

Amnesty International has documented the use of such courts as early as 1983 (see Report from Amnesty International to the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, and at least in some cases they were used for repression of political opposition. In 2004 for example, a Military Field Court sentenced a group of peaceful activists who had been involved with a loose, voluntary network of local people working to establish a free library and cleaning up their town to three to four years of detention (see for example Torture, ill-treatment and unfair trials of the Darya activists,

Thousands of suspected opponents of the government have been arrested in Syria since protests calling for political reform began in February 2011 and many, if not most, are believed to have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated. Amnesty International has the names of hundreds of people reported to have died in custody during this period and has documented many cases of torture or other ill-treatment. See ‘I wanted to die’: Syria’s torture survivors speak out (

Amnesty International has previously documented human rights violations and abuses against injured people and health professionals during the uprising. For more information, please see Amnesty International’s report: Health crisis: Syrian government targets the wounded and health workers (

Since protests began, the situation has evolved into an internal armed conflict in much of the country between the security forces and armed opposition groups intent on overthrowing the government. Systematic as well as widespread human rights abuses, including crimes against humanity and war crimes, have become rife, with civilians being the main victims. Other bodies such as the UN independent international Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic have made similar findings. Amnesty International is calling on all sides in the conflict to abide by international humanitarian law and to protect civilians.

Amnesty International is calling for the situation in Syria to be referred to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. The organization is also calling for an international arms embargo aimed at halting the flow of weapons to the Syrian government, and an assets freeze on President Bashar al-Assad and his close associates. Additionally, states considering supplying weapons to the armed opposition should have in place the necessary mechanisms to ensure the material supplied is not used to commit human rights abuses or war crimes. The Syrian government should also allow the international independent commission of inquiry, and international human rights and humanitarian organizations, unfettered access to the country.

Go to the interactive Eyes on Syria map ( to see where human rights violations are being committed in Syria, and Amnesty International's global activism to seek justice.

Name: Dr Mahmoud Al Refaai, Dr Mohamad Osama Al-Baroudi

Gender m/f: m

Further information on UA: 114/12 Index: MDE 24/001/2013 Issue Date: 19 February 2013


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