After almost 1000 days of secret detention, prominent Syrian lawyer and human rights activist Khalil Maatouk has been awarded by Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L) for his relentless human rights work and activism after he was nominated by the EMHRN.
The award is attributed every two years by the Dutch organisation whose aim is to reward “lawyers who promote the rule of law and human rights in an exceptional way”.
Raneem Maatouk received the award in Amsterdam on her father’s behalf and delivered a moving speech.
For more than 20 years, Maatouk had provided legal assistance to political opponents, human rights activists, journalists and peaceful protestors unfairly tried before Syrian military and civilian courts. Following the Syrian uprising in 2011, Maatouk continued to do so until he was arrested at a government military checkpoint on 2 October 2012.
The Syrian government continues to deny the detention of Khalil Maatouk. Neither his lawyers nor his family have been allowed to visit him despite his severe health situation and need of medical treatment.
The L4L award echoes repeated calls by human rights groups, including EMHRN, urging the Syrian government to reveal the whereabouts of Maatouk and other lawyers detained by Syrian security forces. Successive letters sent to the General Attorney as well as to the head of the Syrian bar association urging those to intervene urgently to reveal the fate of Maatouk were not met with any response.
“The passivity of the Syrian Bar Association in the face of brutal measures deployed by the Syrian governments to eliminate lawyers committed to human rights and the rule of law is inacceptable.’’ Said Michel Tubiana, EMHRN president. “The bar association has a duty to protect lawyers in the practice of their profession.”
The Network reiterates its calls on the Syrian authorities to disclose the whereabouts of Maatouk and release him immediately.
Source: The Euro-Mediterranean Network for Human-Rights