Germany slams jailing of Syrian rights lawyer

7th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Germany condemned Wednesday the jailing of a 79-year-old prominent human rights lawyer by a Syrian court and demanded his immediate release.

The German government's human rights commissioner, Markus Loening, said he was "shocked" by the sentencing of Haytham al-Maleh to three years in prison Sunday on charges of "publishing false information".

"Mr Maleh is considered a leader of the Syrian human rights movement who has committed himself for decades at great personal risk for the protection of human rights in his country," Loening said.

"I call on the Syrian government to comply with its international commitments, in particular in implementing the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and, in light of Mr Maleh's advanced age and his precarious health, release him immediately."

Maleh was arrested in Damascus on October 14 last year, and investigated by the military court over articles he had written.

The lawyer had been imprisoned from 1980 to 1986, along with a large number of trade unionists, activists and political opponents, for demanding constitutional reforms.

He has worked with Amnesty International since 1989 and, in 2001, helped to establish the Syrian Human Rights Association, whose activities have been frozen for more than three years.

© 2010 AFP

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