The United Nations Arbitrary Arrest Commission issued a decision last week on the case of the head of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, Mazen Darwish.
The Commission found that the arrest on 16 February, 2012 was arbitrary and demanded Darwish be released.
After reviwing all evidence provided by Darwish's defense team, the commission of experts decided that "these facts, in addition to other facts, were examined by the team of experts who reached the decision No 43|2013, which was based on the information provided by the International Federation for Human Rights and the International Organization for Fighting Torture."
"Although Syrian authorities didn’t verify the information, the expert team considers that human rights defender Darwish was deprived of his freedom due to his activities related to human rights, and that his arrest was due to practicing his rights to free expression. The team stresses that ignoring the international measures related to a just trial in this case is unacceptable."
In November 2012, Darwish was moved to Damascus Central Prison in Adra. His parents were able to visit him for the first time. Later he was told that he will be tried at the Terrorism Court in Damascus, a court well-known for its disrespect for just practices.
Darwish has since been summoned to many trials but all have been delayed after the Air Force Intelligence unit which carried out the arrest was asked to provide its evidence and was not cooperative.
Darwish has said that he has been tortured and abused in custody, but judges have never investigated these claims in violation of international law.
The team sees that the only suitable procedure is to release Darwish and compensate him.
The General Assembly of United Nations has previously issued decision No. 67|262 on 15|5|2013 under the name of "The Situation In Syria", in which it asked the Syrian government to release Darwish and his colleagues.
Darwish's defense commission welcomed the decision and said that it is an important step that will allow the family of Darwish to raise the case in front of international courts, such as the European Court of Human Rights.
"The Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression welcomes the decision of United Nations Arbitrary Arrest Commission and repeats its demand to immediately release the journalist Mazen Darwish and his colleagues Hani Zitani and Husain Ghurair," it said in a statement.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer