Canada Concerned Over Syria’s Sentencing of Human Rights Lawyer Muhannad al-Hassani

(No. 205 - June 29, 2010 - 3:35 p.m. ET) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement regarding Syria’s June 23 sentencing of prominent lawyer and human rights defender Muhannad al-Hassani to three years in prison for “spreading false information likely to weaken the morale of the nation” under the Syrian Penal Code:

“Canada deplores the nature of the charges leading to this sentencing, as well as the apparent violation of Mr. al-Hassani’s rights to a fair trial and unrestricted access to his lawyers.

“We are also concerned that Mr. al-Hassani’s case is one of a series of arbitrary detentions and unfair sentencess in Syria. Other cases include those of Haitham al-Maleh, a 79-year-old lawyer arrested in October, and Ali al-Abdallah, who was released from Adra prison last week and immediately rearrested.

“Canada is also troubled by Syria’s repeated denial of court access to international observers wanting to monitor the trials of human rights activists.

“Canada urges Syria to release Mr. al-Hassani, Mr. al-Maleh and Mr. al-Abdallah, as well as all other political prisoners. We continue to call on Syria to make a clear commitment to democracy and human rights, including freedom of expression.”

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Melissa Lantsman
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
613-995-1851

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874