Rights group wants Syria to abolish security court

Human Rights Watch calls State Security Court "one of Syria's main pillars of repression;" urges its dissolution.

February 24, 2009 19:14
1 minute read.
Rights group wants Syria to abolish security court

Bashar Assad 248.88. (photo credit: AP)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

A leading international rights group called on Syria on Tuesday to dissolve the country's security court, describing it as "one of Syria's main pillars of repression." The New York-based Human Rights Watch also urged Washington and Europe to condition further ties with Damascus on the dissolution of the State Security Court, and on improving the country's human rights record. The call comes as Syria is improving relations with some Western countries. The European Union foreign policy chief was expected in Damascus on Tuesday and Syria's ambassador to Washington was to meet with State Department officials later this week - the first such meeting in months. The Syrian court was established under a 1963 emergency laws and thousands of people, including activists, intellectuals and members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood opposition group have been tried and sentenced by the tribunal in the last 16 years. Syrian rights groups have in the past called for dissolving the court. Its verdicts cannot be appealed. The HRW said in a 73-page report that 237 people have been tried by the court between January 2007 and June 2008. At least 153 defendants were prosecuted "on the basis of vague charges that criminalize freedom of expression," the report said. Among them, 10 were bloggers, 16 were Kurdish activists and eight citizens accused of "insulting the Syrian president" in private conversations, it said. It also added that defendants were customarily held for months without being informed of charges against them, and that there were claims that security service had "tortured them to extract their confessions." Sarah Leah Whitson, the HRW Middle East director said the court was a "kangaroo court providing judicial cover for the persecution of activists, and even ordinary citizens, by Syria's security agencies." "Defendants have no chance of defending themselves, much less proving their innocence against the bogus charges brought against them," she said. "The State Security Court is one of Syria's main pillars of repression." When Syrian President Bashar Assad succeeded his father in 2000, he released hundreds of political prisoners. But he later clamped down on pro-democracy activists, suggesting there were limits to the level of opposition he was prepared to tolerate. Syria does not comment on security issues and says this is an internal affair.

Related Content

   Members of a Shia militia guard a house in Iraq. The new NDAA warned about the presence of Irania
August 14, 2018
Analysis: Congress’s NDAA gave Trump a green light to confront Iran