Syria: Reprisals against Two Human Rights Defenders Missing Since 31 October 2014

On 13 November 2014, Alkarama solicited the intervention of United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst with the Syrian authorities to ensure the immediate release of two Syrian human rights defenders, Jadia Abdallah Nawfal and Omar Al Shaar, who went missing after their arrest at the Syrian Lebanese border on 31 October.

On 22 October 2014, Jadia Abdallah Nawfal, Director of the Syrian Centre for Democracy and Civil Rights, and Omar Al Shaar, journalist and editor-in-chief of the Day Press News' English section were travelling to Beirut to attend human rights conferences and workshops. About a week later, as they were returning to Damascus on 31 October, they were arrested at the border and handed over to the Syrian Political Security and taken to an unknown location. To this day, their families are still unaware of their place of detention.

Nawfal and Al Shaar' arrests and consequent disappearances are just one more reprisal for their peaceful and legitimate work as human rights activists. Whilst Nawfal had already been sentenced in 1992 to five years of hard labour by the State Security Court of Damascus for his work with the Committees for the Defence of Democratic Freedoms and Human Rights, Al Shaar had been arrested in November 2013 by the Syrian Intelligence as a consequence of his peaceful activism.

Preoccupied by their disappearance, Alkarama urged the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders to call upon the Syrian authorities to release Nawfal and Al Shaar and put an end to the systematic practice of enforced disappearance of peaceful activists. The Syrian authorities must stop harassing and retaliating against human rights activists and stop targeting media centres and news providers. The Syrian government must also ensure that Human Rights Defenders are able to peacefully express themselves without fear from reprisals, as per Resolution 12/2 of the Human Rights Council (HRC).

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