News story

Foreign Office Minister expresses concern over human rights in Syria

Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt raised concerns during a telephone conversation with the Syrian Ambassador to the UK.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Following the conversation, the Minister said:

“I am deeply dismayed to hear reports of the severe physical assault by a fellow prisoner on Muhannad al-Hassani, a prominent Syrian lawyer and Human Rights Defender, in Adra Prison last week. I am concerned that the Syrian authorities have failed to protect him. In addition any suggestion that the attack may have been ordered by the Syrian security services and that he remains at risk are disturbing.

By condoning such abusive actions, Syria is doing nothing to repair its human rights record. It still detains both the oldest and youngest prisoners of conscience in the Arab world: Haitham al-Maleh is 79. Tal al-Mallouhi, who has been held without charge for over 10 months, is just 19. We recognise and respect Syria’s importance in the region and desire to play a more prominent role, and these issues influence world opinion. Accordingly I call on the Syrian Government to meet its international responsibilities by ending its practice of arbitrary arrests and detention and to immediately release Muhannad al-Hassani, Haitham al-Maleh and Tal al-Mallouhi, and all who have been imprisoned solely for seeking to exercise their right to peaceful freedom of expression and freedom of association.”

Published 5 November 2010