Syrian human rights lawyer sentenced to five years’ imprisonment

habib.issaThe ICJ today expressed its dismay to Bashar al Assad that Habib Issa, founding member of the Human Rights Association, was sentenced by the Syrian Supreme State Security Court (SSSC) to five years’ imprisonment.

The ICJ said the charges were politically-motivated and included attempting to change the constitution by illegal means.

These charges arise out of Mr. Issa’s defense of Riad Seif, a leading opposition activist and Parliamentarian.

Decisions of the SSSC are not subject to appeal.

Today’s letter is the third one that the ICJ has addressed to President al Assad concerning Mr. Issa, who has been in detention since September, 2001.

In this letter, the ICJ points out that trial by the SSSC violates Mr. Issa’s fundamental human rights to a fair trial according to international treaties which Syria has ratified. The United Nations Human Rights Committee stated in 2001 that, “In the Committee’s view, the procedures of the State Security Court are incompatible with the provisions of article 14…” of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which guarantees defendants the right to a fair trial by an independent and impartial tribunal. The SSSC is neither independent nor impartial.

We urge President al Assad to rescind the sentence against Mr. Issa and ensure that all judicial processes against this lawyer and other human rights lawyers who have been recently targeted on political grounds conform to international human rights standards and the Rule of Law.

Note: For further information, please contact: Linda Besharaty-Movaed, 41 22 979 38 09.

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