Syrian lawyer and human rights defender Khalil Matouq, who has defended hundreds of political prisoners, journalists and prisoners of conscience, was detained on 2 October 2012. Shortly before his disappearance, Khalil Matouq had been acting as one of the defence lawyers of the staff and visitors of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), a partner of Hivos.
Since his arrest, the human rights defender has been denied access to his family and lawyers as he remains in the custody of the Syrian state security forces, who refuse to disclose his whereabouts.
According to reports received by Hivos partner the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), detainees who have been released from State Security Branch 285 in Kafr Soussa in Damascus, have confirmed that they saw Khalil Matouq at the prison. During recent months, guards at the prison have leaked information that he was in good health.
However, reports received approximately two weeks ago from trustworthy sources state that Khalil Matouq’s health is deteriorating and he is in extremely poor physical condition. Serious concern is now expressed for his health and safety, particularly as he suffers from severe lung diseases, and it is feared that his life may be at serious risk.
Hivos and eighteen other international organisations are issuing this joint statement calling on the Syrian authorities to clarify the whereabouts of human rights lawyer Khalil Matouq and the legal basis for his detention. Hivos and the co-signatories believe that Khalil Matouq is being detained arbitrarily and incommunicado as a direct result of the legitimate exercise of his profession as a lawyer and his peaceful human rights work. We therefore condemn the continued enforced disappearance of Khalil Matouq and his assistant Mohammed Thatha, and in light of new and existing information, call on the Syrian authorities to:
- Immediately and unconditionally release human rights defender Khalil Matouq and his assistant Mohammed Thatha, as they are both detained due to their legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights and are therefore considered prisoners of conscience.
- Immediately disclose the whereabouts and fate of Khalil Matouq and his assistant Mohammed Thatha to their families;
- Grant Khalil Matouq immediate access to any medical treatment he may require;
- Ensure both men are protected from torture or any other form of ill-treatment.
You can download the complete statement from the right sidebar.
Alkarama Foundation, Amnesty International, Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), Article 19, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN), Front Line Defenders, Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries (Hivos), IKV Pax Christi, Lawyers for Lawyers, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders – a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) andthe World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), PEN International, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom, Syrian Centre for Legal Studies and Research, Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM).