Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

3 August 2009

Syrian lawyer faces prosecution for defending human rights

Syrian lawyer faces prosecution for defending human rights
A leading Syrian human rights lawyer was formally charged last Thursday in relation to his legitimate work in defending the rights of political prisoners in Syria. Amnesty International is calling for his immediate release.

Muhannad al-Hassani, who had regularly carried out observations of trials before the Supreme State Security Court, was arrested by Syrian State Security on 28 July and charged with "weakening national sentiments" and "spreading false news".

He was referred to the Justice Palace in Damascus on Thursday, where he was interrogated and formally charged in a closed session in which his lawyer was not allowed access. He could face up to 15 years in prison.

Muhannad al-Hassani had been interrogated on several occasions before the arrest, questioned for his defence of political detainees and for the work of his organization, The Syrian Human Rights Organization (SAWASIYAH).

SAWASIYAH monitors and publicizes human rights violations committed by the Syrian authorities. Muhannad al-Hassani is the Chair of the organization's Board of Directors.

Syrian authorities have previously prevented Muhannad al-Hassani and other human rights lawyers from travelling abroad in order to take part in human rights events and training seminars. This is a well-established pattern used by the Syrian authorities to harass and punish human rights defenders and to suppress political dissent.

"Amnesty International is concerned that Muhannad al-Hassani faces imprisonment because of his legitimate human rights work," said Malcolm Smart from Amnesty International. "Other people imprisoned solely for their human rights work include Anwar al-Bunni, a prominent human rights defender and lawyer in Syria who is serving five years in prison for 'spreading false information harmful to the state'."

Anwar al-Bunni had made a statement to a Qatar-based newspaper in April 2006. In it, he said that the death in custody of Muhammad Shaher Haysa, a political detainee, had been caused by "ill-treatment possibly amounting to torture".

Read More

Human rights activists still face repression in the Middle East and North Africa (Report, 11 March 2009)






Middle East And North Africa 

@amnestyonline on twitter


21 August 2014

Children accused of being members of armed groups in the conflict in Mali are languishing in adult jails while human rights abuses continue.

Read more »
15 August 2014

The number of killings perpetrated by the police is on the rise again in the Dominican Republic whilst legislation intended to fix the problem stalls and stagnates in Congress... Read more »

29 August 2014

The execution of two men in Japan on Friday flies in the face of growing calls in the country to halt the use of capital punishment, said Amnesty International.

Read more »
29 August 2014

Russia’s official branding of a civil society organization as a “foreign agent”, an expression akin to “spying”, for speaking out on Ukraine is a sign of the country’s... Read more »

29 August 2014

Peaceful activist Mohamed Bachir Arab has been held in secret since he was arrested by the Syrian intelligence forces on 2 November 2011. He is one of Syria's many "disappeared... Read more »