Urgent Interventions

Ongoing incommunicado detention of Bassel Khartabil


SYR 003 / 0712 / OBS 071

Ongoing incommunicado detention


July 18, 2012

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Syria.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing arbitrary detention ofMr. Bassel Khartabil, a computer engineer specialised inopen-source software development, known for his activities in favour of thedevelopment of the open web.

According to the informationreceived, on March 15, 2012, Mr. Khartabilwas arrested in the Mazzeh district of Damascus. His arrest took place amid awave of other arbitrary arrests carried out during the one-year anniversary ofthe Syrian uprising. Mr. Khartabil's family has recently learned from formerdetainees held within the security detention branch 291 in Kafer Sousa,Damascus, that Mr. Khartabil was being detained there. However, his whereaboutshave not been formally disclosed yet and the latter therefore remainsofficially detained incommunicado.

The Observatory is deeply concerned about Mr. Bassel Khartabil's ongoing arbitrarydetention and fears for his physical and psychological integrity, particularly in the current context of widespread use of torture and ill-treatment in detentioncentres throughout Syria. The Observatory calls upon the Syrian authorities to take prompt action in order to officially disclose his fate and whereabouts and release him immediately and unconditionally, as his detentionmerely aims at sanctioning his activities in favour offreedom of expression.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Syrian authorities, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Bassel Khartabil, as well as of all human rights defenders in Syria;

ii. Take prompt action in order to officially disclose the fate and whereabouts of Mr. Bassel Khartabil and release himimmediately and unconditionally, as his detention seems to only aim at impedinghis activities in favour of freedom of expression through the web;

iii. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its Article 1, which provides thateveryone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels, as well as with Article 12.2