On 15 March 2012, the military intelligence in Damascus arrested the human rights activist and software engineer Bassel Khartabil in Damascus and took him to an unknown location. This detention is a clear violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 9 explicitly states: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.” His location remained unknown until December of the same year when he was transferred to “Adra Central Prison” where his family members were able to visit him. He remained in Adra Prison until 3/10/2015, from where he was transferred again to unknown location.
Later, his family received unconfirmed information about Bassel being transferred to Saydnaya prison as a first step before sending him to trial before the Military Field Court at the military police headquarters in the Qaboun area.
Military Field Courts are notorious for conducting secret and illegal procedures and are not subject to the Syrian Criminal Procedure Code. The only evidences used for conducting are the statements of the defendant which are mostly obtained in illegal ways like torture. No one has the right to review these courts, including lawyers.
The existence of these courts is a grave violation of international law, especially in terms of ensuring fair trials for all people, as article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.” and article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which states: “Everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law.”
- Immediately disclose the circumstances of Bassel’s death.
- End extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, torture and other ill-treatment.
- Immediately release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Syria.
The Netherlands 08/08/2017
Syria Legal Network –NL
General background by Amnesty International