Impressive coalition of NGOs urges action for arbitrarily detained human rights lawyer Khalil Ma’touq in Syria

June 5, 2013

Khalil Marouiq Noor

New information obtained by human rights organizations has heightened concerns about the secret detention and failing health of a prominent Syrian human rights lawyer who has not been heard from since his arrest eight months ago!

Khalil Ma’touq, the 54-year-old director of the Syrian Centre for Legal Studies and Research, was arrested along with his friend and assistant, 48-year-old Mohammed Thatha, on 2 October last year. It is believed they were detained at a government security checkpoint on their way to work in the capital Damascus. Despite repeated requests from family and lawyers, the Syrian authorities continue to deny they are in custody. Such conditions increase the risk of their being subjected to torture or other ill-treatment, which is rife in Syrian prisons.

Two weeks ago, people close to the two men received a tip-off suggesting that Khalil Ma’touq was indeed in detention, still alive but that he was in extremely bad health. While this report of Khalil Ma’touq’s presence in detention gives his family some sense of his fate after eight months of silence and denials from the authorities, the reports of his worsening health are very troubling.
Because of his human rights work as executive director of the Syrian Centre for Legal Studies,

Khalil Ma’touq, a prominent human rights lawyer has provided legal assistance to many victims of human rights abuses in Syria for many years. He has defended hundreds of political prisoners, journalists, and prisoners of conscience, including those tried by the Supreme State Security Court which fell far short of international standards of fair trial and was abolished in 2011. Khalil Ma’touq wrote and published articles and legal studies in several newspapers and websites such as Al-Hiwar Al-Mutamiden. This included a research paper in which he analysed the connections between the International Criminal Court constitution and Syria’s Penal Codes.
In February 2013, in response to a request for information from a group of lawyers, a public prosecutor in Damascus denied that Khalil Ma’touq was being detained. However, detainees released at that time from the State Security branch 285 in Kafr Soussa in Damascus reported seeing him held there during that month. In April, Khalil Ma’touq’s lawyer told Amnesty International that a State Security officer had informed him of his client’s transfer to an Air Force Intelligence branch in late March. Since the tip-off about Khalil Ma’touq’s health earlier this month, nothing further has been heard about him or Mohammed Thatha.

The 19 undersigned human rights organisations call on the Syrian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release human rights defender Khalil Ma’touq and his assistant Mohammed Thatha, 

1. Alkarama Foundation
2. Amnesty International (AI)
3. Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
5. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
6. Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN)
7. Front Line Defenders
8. Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
9. Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries (Hivos)
10. IKV Pax Christi
11. International Media Support (IMS)
12. Lawyers for Lawyers
13. Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint
programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and
the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT)
14. PEN International
15. Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
16. SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom
17. Syrian Centre for Legal Studies and Research
18. Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)

One Response to “Impressive coalition of NGOs urges action for arbitrarily detained human rights lawyer Khalil Ma’touq in Syria”

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