Dear ICJ Commissioners and Honorary Members,
I am writing to follow-up on my letter of 21 August 2009 concerning the arrest and detention of our Syrian ioner Muhannad Al-Hasani. As he awaits likely prosecution before the State Security Court, Muhannad Al-Hasani is now facing a disciplinary “trial” before the Syrian Bar Association on the same charges pending against him before the State Security Court. The Syrian Bar Association is not independent and is under the control of the Baa’ts ruling party. Under the 1981 Syrian Bar association law, Al-Hasani might be suspended from practicing law for an unlimited or indefinite period. The Bar Association allowed him to be represented by a lawyer during this proceeding, and according to information provided by his lawyer, Al-Hasani is remains at risk of ill-treatment in Adra prison, Damascus.
I had a meeting with the Syrian ambassador last Friday. It was an opportunity for me to express the ICJ¹s deep concern about the arrest of Al-Hasani and to impress upon the the Syrian Government that his arrest constitutes a serious attack against the Syrian legal profession and the Rule of Law in Syria.
However, I am concerned that it is quite possible that the Syrian authorities will go ahead with the trial of Al-Hasani before the State Security Court. If this were to occur, we will monitor the trial. Meanwhile, we are seeking to send an urgent mission to Syria in solidarity with Al-Hasani and to see if we can make progress with the relevant officials in Damascus.
The Mission will try to meet with representatives of the Syrian Government, the Bar Association and the State Security Court, and will seek Al-Hasani¹s release and the dropping of the charges, and the restoration of his capacity to practice his profession, including as a human rights defender. The Mission will also try to have access to Al-Hasani in Adra prison.
I will let you know as soon as there is any further development with this situation. Many thanks to those of you who have already taken actions in defense of, and solidarity with, our colleague Muhannad Al-Hasani.
Acting Secretary General
International Commission of Jurists